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AATCLC stands with San Francisco Supervisor Malia Cohen as she introduces bold city-wide ordinance to restrict the sale of menthol and flavored tobacco products

May 3, 2017

by Jackie Wright

San Francisco – Dr. Valerie Yerger, ND, of UCSF and Carol McGruder, co-chair of the African American Tobacco Control Leadership Council (AATCLC), stood with Supervisor Malia Cohen, Mayor Ed Lee, Oakland Vice Mayor Annie Campbell Washington, researchers and community leaders as Cohen announced historic legislation restricting the sale city-wide of menthol and other flavored tobacco products in San Francisco.

At a press conference Tuesday, April 18, at City Hall, Supervisor Malia Cohen announced the ordinance that is co-authored by fellow Supervisor Ahsha Safai. San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee was on hand to voice his strong support for the life-saving proposed ordinance as well.

Supervisor Malia Cohen introduces landmark flavored tobacco restriction ordinance

San Francisco – Supervisor Malia Cohen today introduced a landmark tobacco control ordinance which will restrict the sale of all flavored tobacco products in the city of San Francisco. This evidence-based legislation prohibits retailers from selling any tobacco product, whether cigarette, smokeless, e-product or otherwise that has an added characterizing flavor.

At a City Hall press conference April 18, Supervisor Malia Cohen announces her introduction of an ordinance to ban flavored tobacco products, including menthol cigarettes. The announcement made national news. – Photo: Malaika Kambon

Supervisor Cohen’s legislation is unique in that it is a full restriction on the sale of flavored tobacco, including menthol products. Flavored tobacco is disproportionately marketed to children and young adults, African Americans and LGBTQ people.

“For too long the tobacco industry has gotten a pass while they selectively target vulnerable populations with flavored tobacco products,” said Supervisor Cohen. “Flavored tobacco hooks new smokers and makes them lifelong users. It can be more harmful and more difficult to quit than unflavored tobacco.

“Tobacco use remains the leading cause of preventable death in the United States, specifically cancers. This legislation will have a tremendous impact on the disturbing disparities for tobacco-related illnesses, and will reduce the number of new tobacco users that pick up the habit annually.”

Beyond the human suffering associated with tobacco use, the financial cost in San Francisco amounts to $380 million per year in direct health care expenses and lost productivity.

“We know from research and studies that tobacco related diseases continue to be the number one cause of preventable deaths, especially among low income and minority communities,” says Mayor Ed Lee. “We must do everything in our power to educate San Franciscans about the negative effects of tobacco and to protect the health, safety and welfare of our citizens. I applaud Supervisor Cohen for leading this effort.”

Supervisor Cohen’s legislation is unique in that it is a full restriction on the sale of flavored tobacco, including menthol products. Flavored tobacco is disproportionately marketed to children and young adults, African Americans and LGBTQ people.

“This is the largest and best step to date to reign in the predatory marketing of menthol and all flavored tobacco products. It’s about time!” said Dr. Phil Gardiner from the University of California Office of the President. “Big Tobacco’s strategy of using menthol is to ease the harshness of tobacco consumption while alluding to menthol cigarettes as ‘healthier’ options. They target low income communities and others, adding to their duplicity all in the name of making billions of dollars in profits at the expense of human lives.”

Carol McGruder, co-chair of African American Tobacco Control Leadership Council, has worked tirelessly for decades to stop tobacco products and advertising that targets African Americans. While most Black newspapers around the country used the plentiful tobacco advertising to make a healthy profit and grow their staffs, the Bay View under the Ratcliffs decided 26 years ago not to take tobacco ads, because they aim to addict and ultimately kill our readers, and we never have. We support the work of Carol McGruder and the AATCLC. – Photo: Malaika Kambon

“Forty-five thousand African Americans die annually from tobacco related diseases – more than police-involved shootings, homicides, AIDS, car accidents, diabetes and all other preventable causes of death combined,” said Dr. Yerger. “Why do over 80 percent of Black smokers smoke mentholated tobacco products? Since the Civil Rights Era, Big Tobacco companies have perniciously targeted the African American community with mentholated tobacco products.”

“We salute the vision and courage of Supervisor Malia Cohen,” said Carol McGruder of the African American Tobacco Control Leadership Council. “This proposed legislation puts the health and lives of our children before the tobacco industry profits. The African American Tobacco Control Leadership Council is calling for the greater tobacco control community to work strategically to restrict the sale of menthol cigarettes and other flavored tobacco products. All communities should be healthy and prosperous.”

The African American Tobacco Control Leadership Council (AATCLC), a collective of tobacco control experts dedicated to research, community collaboration and public engagement, is working to stop the 45,000 preventable deaths of African Americans due to tobacco related diseases.

Jackie Wright is the president of Wright Enterprises, a full service public relations firm serving the corporate, non-profit and government sectors. A seasoned media and public relations professional, Wright has over 20 years of media experience, including more than a decade of award-winning journalism experience in radio, television and print communications, and holds degrees in both journalism and drama from the University of Georgia. She can be reached at jackiewright@wrightnow.biz or twitter.com/wrightenternow.

6 thoughts on “AATCLC stands with San Francisco Supervisor Malia Cohen as she introduces bold city-wide ordinance to restrict the sale of menthol and flavored tobacco products

  1. Jason James

    So wait… let me get this straight.. along with pushing out blacks in San Fran.. now they wanna ban menthol cigarettes in attempts to lock brothers up?? Cmon guys!

    Reply

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