Cancer Patients/Survivors Urge Lawmakers to Address Youth E-Cigarette Epidemic by Passing Flavored Tobacco Restriction Bills!
ACS CAN 2019 Cancer Action Day at Capitol Brings Voices of Cancer Patients to Halls of Capitol
SACRAMENTO, CA – More than 100 cancer patients, their families and other volunteers from around the state are fired up during their annual trek to the State Capitol for Cancer Action Day. This year, they’re asking state lawmakers to restrict the sale of flavored tobacco products including menthol, candy and fruit flavorings.
Most flavored cigarettes were taken off the market by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 2009, but the federal restrictions did not include menthol-flavored cigarettes, nor did the flavoring restrictions apply to all tobacco products including e-cigarettes, which the U.S. Surgeon General now calls an “epidemic” among youth.
The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) gives people impacted by cancer a powerful voice by holding an annual Cancer Action Day to fight for legislation that will reduce the devastation caused by cancer in California. Nearly 180,000 new cases of cancer are expected this year in California. Sadly, more than 60,000 of the state’s residents will die from the disease.
“A third of those cancer-related deaths will be caused by tobacco use, which is why our ACS CAN volunteer advocates are so passionate about stopping the skyrocketing use of flavored tobacco products among youth in California,” said California’s lead ACS CAN volunteer and cancer survivor Patsy Romero of Bakersfield. “Many of us have lost loved ones to cancers caused by tobacco and are horrified at the trend showing alarming numbers of teens being lured into a potential lethal addiction.”
ACS CAN is co-sponsor of Assembly Bill (AB) 739, introduced by assembly members Kevin McCarty and Jim Wood along with companion legislation Senate Bill (SB) 38 introduced by Sen. Jerry Hill. If passed this session, both bills would restrict the sale of all flavored tobacco products including the enticing candy and fruit flavored e-cigarettes and menthol cigarettes the tobacco industry uses to bait the next generation of users.
Flavored tobacco products are a key part of the tobacco industry’s strategy to bait youth into becoming tomorrow’s addicts, and we cannot waste time addressing the skyrocketing use of e-cigarettes among California’s kids,” said ACS CAN Senior Government Relations Director Tim Gibbs. “Make no mistake—the industry shamelessly tries to maximize profits while its customers suffer death and disease, and local taxpayers continue to foot the bill for tobacco-related illnesses.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released new data in February showing overall tobacco use among teens has risen 36% since 2017, driven largely by soaring use of e-cigarettes. The study shows e-cigarette use among high schoolers jumped a whopping 78% in the last year and research already showed 80% of tobacco users started with a flavored product.
Ending the sale of flavored tobacco products is an issue of both health and social justice. Young people who smoke flavored tobacco, especially menthol cigarettes, are disproportionately African American, Asian American, LGBT and from low-income communities already significantly impacted by tobacco-related disease.
Among the most serious challenges, tobacco companies have aggressively marketed menthol-flavored tobacco products to African Americans, often targeting youth. The anesthetizing effect of menthol makes the smoke easier to inhale and masks the harsh taste of tobacco, making it more appealing to new users. The Food and Drug Administration found that those who begin smoking menthol cigarettes are more likely to progress to regular smoking and have a higher level of nicotine dependence than those who begin with non-menthol cigarettes. Smoking causes nearly half a million deaths annually in the U.S. including about one-third of cancer deaths and deaths from other smoking-related illnesses.
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 www.fightcancer.org.