We join the city of San Francisco in celebrating a victory for public health. Last week, voters approved Proposition E, preserving a local ordinance that prohibits the sale of flavored tobacco products, including menthol cigarettes. Even though Big Tobacco ran a coordinated and well-funded campaign against the ordinance, San Francisco voters decisively upheld the sales restriction by a 68 percent to 32 percent margin.
This accomplishment comes despite a multi-million-dollar campaign by R.J. Reynolds tobacco company to overturn the prohibition. San Francisco voters remained committed to improving the health of their community, and they deserve credit for standing up to Big Tobacco and protecting children and others from the dangers of tobacco.
Evidence shows candy-flavored tobacco products can be more appealing than unflavored tobacco, posing a major risk to youth and young adults who start lifelong addictions at an early age. The tobacco industry selectively targets children and minority communities when marketing these dangerous products, hoping to hook them on a lifetime addiction. By rejecting the industry’s harmful agenda, San Francisco voters made their voices heard and showed unwavering commitment to the well-being of their city. This victory should inspire and empower other communities across the country to take similar action and stand up to Big Tobacco.
I’m particularly proud of the work of our ACS CAN staff and volunteers in San Francisco, who in partnership with several other public health organizations prevailed in spite of being outspent 6 to 1 by the tobacco industry. The hard work by the coalition paid off and as a result, the children and residents of San Francisco now have a healthier future ahead.
Thank you to those who persevered in the face of Big Tobacco, and to those who continue to advocate for the health of our children and communities.