Letters submitted by BDN readers are verified by BDN Opinion Page staff. Send your letters to letters@bangordailynews.com.

Susan Collins’ diabetes work

Unfortunately, our family is all too familiar with the struggles and pitfalls of living with Type 1 diabetes, which is why we so appreciate the work Sen. Susan Collins has done to improve the lives of those who must live with it. Our granddaughter was first diagnosed when she was only 5 years old, our son-in-law was also diagnosed at an early age and our son was diagnosed in his early 30s.

Collins founded and co-chairs the Senate Diabetes Caucus, and in this capacity, she’s helped advocate for funding, research and technology. Most recently, she and Sen. Angus King announced that the Maine Department of Health and Human Services will receive nearly $2 million to support diabetes and heart health prevention here in Maine. With this funding, the department will fund efforts to better understand and prevent this chronic disease.

Type 1 diabetes is a chronic and lifelong condition that must be continually managed. It is an expensive, and challenging illness that hasn’t always received the funding or attention that it deserves. That’s why Collins’ continued work to better the lives of those who live with it is so important.

Sue and Joe Cyr

Old Town

Prevent youth tobacco use

For decades, the tobacco industry has marketed menthol cigarettes as healthier than non-menthol cigarettes, and they targeted specific social and demographic groups, including young people and women. The industry’s marketing of menthol as a “healthier” alternative attracted consumers who may not otherwise smoke, including young, inexperienced users and those who find “regular” cigarettes undesirable.

Today, the industry is reusing this strategy with e-cigarettes, which are marketed as a “harm reduction” strategy to traditional cigarettes and are perceived to be “safer” and “cleaner” by youth. In fact, e-cigarettes aren’t an approved tobacco cessation device, and most youth don’t view e-cigarettes as tobacco products:  76 percent believe they are less addictive, and 72 percent think they are “cleaner” and “safer” than traditional cigarettes. While 99 percent of e-cigarettes contain nicotine, 54 percent of Maine youth think it’s “just flavoring.”

Women and girls, in particular, are an important consumer for the tobacco industry. With campaigns and slogans like: “Reach for a Lucky instead of a sweet,” “You’ve come a long way, baby” and “We make Virginia Slims especially for women because they are biologically superior to men” the tobacco industry took advantage of mainstream beauty and fashion standards to portray smoking as feminine. The industry also associated smoking with “women’s freedom, emancipation, and empowerment” as the 2001 U.S. Surgeon General’s Report on Women and Smoking  states.

The Maine Legislature needs to take action to prevent youth tobacco use and prevent the industry from marketing another product as a healthful alternative to combustible cigarettes — when that’s actually not true.

Heather Drake

Cape Elizabeth

Focus on food insecurity not firearms

I am a resident of Piscataquis County. I had no idea the county commissioners were going to discuss our county becoming a Second Amendment sanctuary. People who would have spoken out about this were not given an opportunity to have their voices heard. Is this how the county commissioners work to represent all the people of our wonderful county?

Where are their priorities? It would be great if they could work on the food insecurity problem in our county or getting businesses to come here. We are one of the poorest counties in the state. Let’s do something about that.

Judy Dow