American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network Reacts to Proposed Flavored Tobacco Legislation by D.C. Council

Legislation must be expanded to ensure broad, positive health impacts

January 12, 2021

WASHINGTON, D.C – Yesterday, Councilmember Mary Cheh today was joined by eight councilmembers in reintroducing the Flavored Electronic Smoking Device Prohibition Amendment Act of 2021. This legislation will end the sale of certain flavored e-cigarette products in the District of Columbia but falls short by failing to prohibit the sale of menthol cigarettes and other flavored tobacco products.

The following can be attributed to Jocelyn Collins, D.C. director of government relations for the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN):

“While we are encouraged that the Council recognizes the dangers posed by flavored e-cigarettes, the current amendment will not sufficiently address tobacco use across the District. In order to achieve its goal and have the broadest lifesaving impact, it is critical that the Council markup the bill to end the sale of all flavored tobacco products.

“The dangers of flavored tobacco do not just start and end with e-cigarettes. The Council must end the sale of menthol cigarettes, candy and fruit flavored cigars, and all other flavored tobacco products. The tobacco industry has invested millions in marketing these products in the District – including aggressive targeted marketing of menthol cigarettes to Black communities – as they attempt to addict future generations to their deadly products. Right here in the District, researchers found that stores in predominantly black neighborhoods were up to 10 times more likely to display tobacco ads inside and outside than retailers in area with fewer Black District residents. 

“Menthol in particular, is a flavor proven to be especially addictive and hard to quit. This amendment must be broadened to include menthol cigarettes and menthol flavored products beyond e-cigarettes. Allowing menthol cigarettes and other candy and fruit flavored tobacco products like cigars to stay on store shelves will continue to directly and negatively impact the health of the District’s residents and is a matter of social justice.

“With smoking contributing to over a quarter of cancers deaths in the District, the deadly results of the tobacco industry’s targeting of marginalized communities cannot be ignored, especially now: the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has named smoking a risk factor for developing severe illness from COVID-19. And as we know, COVID-19 itself has taken a heavier toll on communities of color.

“We urge the Council to help protect the health of District residents by expanding the proposed legislation to end the sale of all flavored tobacco products throughout the city, and without exemptions.”

The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) is making cancer a top priority for public officials and candidates at the federal, state and local levels. ACS CAN empowers advocates across the country to make their voices heard and influence evidence-based public policy change as well as legislative and regulatory solutions that will reduce the cancer burden. As the American Cancer Society's nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy affiliate, ACS CAN is critical to the fight for a world without cancer. For more information, visit


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