U.S. HOUSE APPROVES BILL BANNING FLAVORED TOBACCO PRODUCTS
“Protecting american lungs and
Reversing the Youth Epidemic act of 2020″ (H.R. 2339)
Tobacco companies have targeted African Americans for years in their predatory marketing of menthol products, putting them at risk for smoking-related disease and death. Smoking cigarettes, especially menthol flavored cigarettes, has resulted in approximately 45,000 African American deaths each and every year. This bill would not only ban flavored tobacco products that have been known to spark a youth vaping epidemic and target minority populations but would also ban online sales of e-cigarettes while restricting advertising and marketing of those products.
Ending the sale of all flavored tobacco products, including flavored e-cigarettes, menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars, is a critical step to reverse the youth e-cigarette epidemic and create the first tobacco-free generation. There is a growing movement by policy makers at all levels, and especially at the state and city level, to prohibit the sale of all flavored tobacco products.
The tobacco industry has a long history of targeting kids with flavored products, and the evidence is clear that flavors play a key role in youth initiation and continued use of tobacco products. Flavors improve the taste and mask the harshness of tobacco products, making it easier for kids to try these products and ultimately become addicted.
Flavored products, especially Juul, have fueled the skyrocketing youth e-cigarette epidemic, which is addicting a generation of kids and threatens to reverse the decades-long progress our nation has made in reducing youth tobacco use.
Because of the rise in e-cigarette use, the overall tobacco use rate among high school students is at the highest level (31.2%) in 19 years.
Flavored e-cigarettes have driven this epidemic – 97% of youth e-cigarette users report using a flavored product in the past month and 70% cite flavors as a reason for their use. E-cigarettes are sold in over 15,000 flavors, from mint and menthol to gummy bear and cotton candy.
MENTHOL CIGARETTES TARGET YOUTH, AFRICAN AMERICANS
There is also more than enough evidence to ban the sale of menthol cigarettes. Menthol cools and numbs the throat and reduces the harshness of tobacco smoke, making menthol cigarettes more appealing for kids who are starting to smoke. Over half of youth smokers – including seven in ten African-American youth smokers – use menthol cigarettes. A comprehensive FDA scientific analysis, issued in 2013, concluded that menthol cigarettes 1) increase smoking initiation and progression to regular smoking among youth and young adults; 2) increase nicotine dependence (addiction); and 3) reduce success in quitting smoking.
For decades, the tobacco industry has engaged in targeted marketing of menthol cigarettes to African Americans and to youth. African Americans smoke menthol cigarettes at high rates and quit smoking at lower rates, and African-American men have high death rates from lung cancer. Ending the sale of menthol cigarettes is one of the most important steps policy makers can take to further reduce youth smoking and addressing tobacco-related health disparities.