Brooklyns Youth Council Researches Kids’ Tobacco Use
Plymouth has a Tobacco 21 ordinance. Could the Brooklyns be next?
The Brooklyns Youth Council, a 16-member group of local high school students, has done extensive research to determine what impact tobacco has on youngsters in Brooklyn Center and Brooklyn Park. Their goal was to find out why certain kids ages 12 to 20 smoke or use smokeless tobacco products. The student group found the temptation is real and that tobacco products are very accessible.
“The two primary reasons they use it is either for peer pressure or to relieve stress,” said Olufemi Akindumila, a senior at Brooklyn Center High School. “The stress portion is actually eye-opening for me. I didn’t know that a lot of kids were under stress either from school, from problems at work, or home. Just knowing that they were using tobacco and tobacco products as an avenue to relieve stress was a big eye-opener.”
The Brooklyns Youth Council also found out that e-cigarettes and small flavored cigars are becoming more popular. And the council discovered that tobacco products are readily available in minority communities. In those areas many tobacco shops were located near schools and libraries.
“During our research we found that a lot of youth are aware that tobaccos are targeted at low-income families, especially minorities,” said Marthalyn Nehwah, a senior at Park Center High School. “They are specifically targeted just to those people. As you go further away from low incomes you find that other cities don’t have that many tobacco products associated with them.”
The Brooklyns Youth Council will share their discoveries this week with the Brooklyn Center City Council. There is a good chance the group will push for raising the minimum age of buying tobacco to 21 and for an increase in the cost of tobacco products.
Cities with Tighter Tobacco Restrictions
Several metro area cities have already voted to raise the age for the purchase of tobacco products to 21. Besides Plymouth, they include Edina, St. Louis Park and Bloomington. Last winter, the city of Robbinsdale approved an ordinance change to limit flavored-tobacco products and cheap cigars. The city decided against a T21 ordinance at the time, because neighboring cities like Crystal, Golden Valley and Minneapolis had no such measure. Since then, Minneapolis has begun discussing a T21 ordinance.