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Your letters: Support Tobacco21

I am a recent graduate of New York Mills High School and I support Tobacco 21 because I have already felt the detrimental effects of the tobacco industry.

Every day at school I watched my classmates and underclassman go out to lunch and use tobacco products including everything from cigarettes to chew to juuling. I would regularly receive snapchat videos of all my friends blowing vape clouds. It didn't matter if they were a straight-A student or a student that didn't take school seriously. The use of tobacco products, mainly vapes, in school was as normal as waking up in the morning.

Seeing all this made me reach out to an 18-year-old classmate and ask them to buy me a vape because I felt left out not having one. I was under the impression that vaping was the new way to reach social approval and was led to believe that it was like smoking, but without all the negative health effects.

Fast forward to when I turned 18. I now had the ability to buy vape for myself. Walking into the vape store for the first time I found it to be a nice non-judgmental hang out place. It was clean, with nice furniture, fireplaces, flat screen TVs with video games and staff that were vaping while selling me and all my friends a false reality.

I had been vaping for about a year on a regular weekly basis. I would get a huge buzz that caused me to get extremely dizzy to the point I could hardly walk. I soon realized that I was vaping only to fit in, and it was having a major impact on my health. That is when I decided to quit. It was really hard! I had to put my vape in places that I could not easily get to and surround myself with family so I was not tempted to give in to my addiction. I am glad to say that I successfully quit, but I do not wish that experience upon anybody.

I encourage our county commissioners to pass the Tobacco 21 ordinance for all of Otter Tail County. By raising the purchasing age to 21, I would have never started. Now with my younger brother seeing his friends use tobacco products and starting ask questions, I fear that he will fall into the same trap I did. I hope my story will encourage you and our leaders to support Tobacco 21.

Anna Carlson,

New York Mills