California Voters Prioritize Public Health, Send a Resounding No to Big Tobacco’s Use of Candy-flavored Products to Hook Kids

California becomes the second state to end the sale of menthol cigarettes, a move that will help reduce tobacco use and prevent tobacco-related diseases like cancer

November 8, 2022

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – On Tuesday, California voters passed Proposition 31 to uphold a popular and bipartisan statewide law ending the sale of most flavored tobacco products, including menthol cigarettes and e-cigarettes. The law will help protect kids from a potential lifetime of addiction, reduce tobacco use and advance health equity.

The following is a statement from Jim Knox, California managing director for the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN):

“California voters have claimed a decisive victory over Big Tobacco by putting an end to one of its most depraved practices: using fruit- and candy-flavored products to lure kids into a potential lifetime of addiction.

“Over 2.5 million U.S. middle and high school students use e-cigarettes and research shows that flavors drive youth tobacco use, with 81% of kids who have ever tried tobacco starting with a flavored product. It is clear that to achieve a tobacco-free generation, the nation must follow Massachusetts’ and now California’s lead and take flavored tobacco products off the market.

“Big Tobacco also has a long history of using flavored tobacco products to target people with limited incomes, communities of color and LGBTQ+ communities, which has led to undue health disparities.

“Largely because of the tobacco industry’s pernicious marketing of menthol, Black Californians who smoke have a harder time quitting and die at higher rates from tobacco-related diseases like heart disease, stroke and cancer. Black people have the highest death rate and shortest survival of any racial group for most cancers.

“With their vote to end the sale of menthol cigarettes and most other flavored tobacco products, Californians have shown they will not allow Big Tobacco to keep profiting at the expense of the health of our communities.

“ACS CAN volunteers will continue to work with local, state and federal lawmakers to pass policies that reduce tobacco use, address the health disparities it inflicts and decrease tobacco-related diseases like cancer.”