Missoula, Mont.—The Missoula City Council passed an ordinance to restrict the sale of flavored e-cigarettes only. The Montana chapters of the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN), American Heart Association (AHA) and American Lung Association opposed the policy because it does not include menthol cigarettes and all other flavored tobacco products, leaving opportunities for Big Tobacco to continue marketing flavored products to youth.
Kristin Page Nei, ACS CAN Montana government relations director, said:
"While we were hopeful the Missoula City Council would address all flavored tobacco, this policy doesn’t go far enough, and we are disappointed with this outcome. By only restricting sales of flavored e-cigarettes, the tobacco industry will continue to disproportionately target LGBTQ youth, youth of color, and kids from families with lower incomes with menthol cigarettes and candy and fruit-flavored tobacco products. Tobacco companies aggressively target these youth, spending $29.5 million each year in Montana marketing their deadly products. Protecting some youth from tobacco, but not those at higher risk for tobacco use is inequitable and counter to public health best practices."
Amanda Cahill, AHA Montana, government relations director, added:
"In order to protect all kids and reduce tobacco use, we need to end the sale of menthol cigarettes and all other flavored tobacco products including cigars, cigarillos, hookah and smokeless flavored tobacco. Flavored tobacco products are a marketing weapon used by Big Tobacco to lure future generations into a lifetime addiction. Big Tobacco considers these starter products. In fact, 81% of youth who’ve ever used tobacco start with a flavored product, and 70% of current youth tobacco users have used a flavored product in the last month."
Carrie Nyssen, Senior Director of Advocacy, the American Lung Association, said:
"Unfortunately, nicotine-addicted youth have shown time and time again that they will switch to whatever flavored products are still on the market. This measure will likely result in Missoula’s kids switching to cigars, spit tobacco or menthol cigarettes that are left available for the tobacco industry to market to them. We saw this when the FDA prohibited the use of flavored cigarettes but allowed for menthol. Youth use of menthol cigarettes skyrocketed. And when JUUL removed some of their fruit and candy-flavored products from the market, youth quickly switched to JUUL mint and menthol flavors. We can expect the same thing to happen in Missoula.
"By allowing the sale of some flavored tobacco products, this weakened policy does not protect all Missoula kids. We can and must do better in order to protect future generations and save lives from preventable death and disease. We did not see a plan from the City Council to protect all kids from all flavors. Hope is not a plan."