Statement of John Bowman, Executive Vice President for U.S. Programs, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids
WASHINGTON, D.C. – At their annual meeting in Columbus, Ohio, the bipartisan U.S. Conference of Mayors today approved a resolution that supports prohibiting all flavored tobacco products, including flavored e-cigarettes, menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars. This resolution underscores the strong, broad support across the country for eliminating flavored tobacco products and stopping tobacco companies from using these products to target and addict kids, Black communities and other populations. Mayors are seeing firsthand the harm these products cause to the health of their communities, and they are stepping up to demand action. Policymakers at every level should listen and act, including the FDA, states, cities and counties.
We applaud the U.S. Conference of Mayors for passing this resolution in support of policies that will protect kids from tobacco addiction, advance health equity and save lives. We are grateful for the strong leadership provided by the sponsors of this resolution, including Mayors Andy Schor of Lansing MI, Justin Bibb of Cleveland OH, Satya Rhodes-Conway of Madison WI, and Alix Desulme of North Miami FL. Appropriately, this resolution was approved in Columbus, a city that recently set a terrific example by enacting a new law ending the sale of all flavored tobacco products.
This resolution should spur more states and localities to join the five states and over 360 localities that have already cracked down on the sale of flavored tobacco products. It should also spur the FDA to meet its own deadline for issuing final rules this year to prohibit menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars, and also to act quickly to clear the market of all flavored e-cigarettes.
The U.S. Conference of Mayors’ resolution makes clear the urgent need for action.
As the resolution notes, youth e-cigarette use remains a public health crisis driven by flavored products. In 2022, over 2.5 million U.S. youth were current e-cigarette users, and 85% of them reported using flavored products.
The resolution also supports prohibiting menthol cigarettes, which the tobacco industry has intentionally marketed to Black communities for decades, causing devastating and disproportionate harm to the health of Black Americans. The FDA has concluded that menthol cigarettes are more addictive, easier for kids to start smoking and harder for smokers to quit. Menthol cools and numbs the throat and reduces the harshness of smoking, making it easier for kids to start smoking.
Research estimates that prohibiting menthol cigarettes would save up to 654,000 lives, including 255,000 Black lives, and would quickly eliminate the disparity in lung cancer deaths between Black Americans and other racial groups.
Eliminating flavored cigars will also protect kids and reduce health disparities. Cigars are sold in hundreds of kid-friendly flavors, like Banana Smash, Chocolate Brownie and Cherry Dynamite. They are the second most popular tobacco product among youth and are especially popular among Black youth.