In this June 17, 2019, file photo, a cashier displays a packet of tobacco-flavored Juul pods at a store in San Francisco. Credit: Samantha Maldonado / AP

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I’m a respiratory therapist from Palermo and I am asking the community to join me in urging Congress to pass the Build Back Better Act. The bill includes policies that will improve air quality, reduce tobacco use, and improve access to quality and affordable healthcare for all Americans.

Out of the many benefits of the Build Back Better Act, I am most passionate about reducing tobacco use. We are dealing with a youth vaping epidemic across the nation and here in Maine where nearly 29 percent of high school students report using electronic cigarettes. By including an e-cigarette tax, we can help reduce youth vaping use.

Personally, working in health care, I see the toll of tobacco every day on patients who struggle to breathe and at the same time have difficulty ending their addiction to tobacco. As a grandmother, I’m troubled by the  tactics of the tobacco industry to hook the next generation of nicotine addicts. Increasing the price of tobacco products is the most effective way to stop youth initiation and help current users make a quit attempt.

I am urging Rep. Jared Golden, and Sens. Susan Collins and Angus King to support the Build Back Better Act, and specifically the inclusion of the increased tax on e-cigarettes, the 10-year clean energy tax credits, and policies to expand access to quality and affordable healthcare.

Diane Haskell

Member

Maine Leadership Board

American Lung Association

Palermo