Tobacco-Free Kids Strongly Supports Mayor Bibb's Legislation to End Flavored Tobacco Sales in Cleveland

Statement of Matthew L. Myers, President, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids 

WASHINGTON, Feb. 6, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids strongly supports the legislation proposed by Mayor Justin Bibb to end the sale of flavored tobacco products in Cleveland, and we urge the City Council to quickly enact it into law. This legislation will protect kids from tobacco addiction, advance health equity and save lives. It will help end the tobacco industry’s predatory targeting of kids, Black Americans and other communities with flavored tobacco products, including flavored e-cigarettes, menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars.

We applaud Mayor Bibb and Dr. David Margolius, Director of the Cleveland Department of Public Health, for their leadership in advancing this bold proposal to protect Cleveland’s kids and promote health equity.

This legislation will crack down on the tobacco industry’s most pernicious tactic for luring and addicting kids – the marketing of flavored tobacco products. Research shows that 81% of kids who have ever used a tobacco product started with a flavored product. It will also help end the tobacco industry’s deliberate targeting of Black communities with menthol cigarettes, which has had a devastating impact on Black lives and health and is a major contributor to health disparities. A recent analysis by the Council on Foreign Relations found that the elimination of menthol cigarettes would quickly eliminate disparities in lung cancer death rates among Black Americans.

Flavored products have fueled the current epidemic of youth e-cigarette use, with nearly 30% of Ohio high school students currently using e-cigarettes. Nationally, more than 2.5 million kids use e-cigarettes, and 85% of them use flavored products.

Menthol cigarettes have also been a favorite tobacco industry strategy for targeting kids, Black Americans, Latinos, the LGBTQ community and other communities. Half of all kids who ever try smoking start with menthol cigarettes. The evidence shows that menthol makes cigarettes more addictive, easier for kids to start smoking and harder for smokers to quit. Because of the tobacco industry’s predatory marketing, 85% of Black smokers now smoke menthol cigarettes, compared to less than 10% in the 1950’s. Menthol cigarettes are a major reason why tobacco use is the number one cause of preventable death among Black Americans – claiming 45,000 Black lives every year – and why Black Americans have a harder time quitting smoking and are more likely to die from tobacco-related diseases like lung cancer, heart disease and stroke.

In addition, cheap, flavored cigars – sold in hundreds of flavors like cherry dynamite, tropical twist and chocolate – have flooded the market in recent years and fueled the popularity of these products with kids. The 2022 National Youth Tobacco Survey shows that cigars are the second most popular tobacco product (after e-cigarettes) among all high school students and are especially popular among Black high school students.

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SOURCE Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids

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