Statement from Action on Smoking and Health
Thanking the District of Columbia’s Mayor for Signing the Tobacco Product Flavor Ban Bill into Law
WASHINGTON, DC – JULY 22, 2021 – Action on Smoking & Health (ASH) congratulates Washington, DC Mayor Muriel Bowser for swiftly signing into law a ban on the sale of all flavored tobacco products, including menthol. We are grateful to the Flavors Hook Kids Campaign and members of the DC Tobacco Free Coalition for their advocacy for the bill, and to the City Council for taking this initiative. DC joins several states and scores of cities that have taken this important step in ending the tobacco epidemic.
This is a victory for public health and for health equity.
For decades, the tobacco industry has harmed the Black community with menthol cigarettes through a variety of tactics, including targeted advertising and handing out free cigarettes to children in Black neighborhoods. As a result, 85% of Black Americans who smoke use menthol, a rate far higher than among other groups. Menthol eases the transition to nicotine addiction and makes it harder to quit.
We urge the Council to move just as swiftly to provide the funding necessary to implement and enforce this law. It is a small price to pay to reduce health inequities, and the city will be paid back many times over in future health-related savings.
The flavor ban will save lives and prevent addiction. A national menthol ban would be even more impactful. On April 29, 2021, the Food and Drug Administration announced that it will propose such a regulation within a year. We urge the FDA to move as swiftly as possible too.