Los Angeles Takes Critical Step to Help Reduce Health Disparities, Becomes the Nation’s Largest City to End Sale of Menthol Cigarettes

June 1, 2022

Los Angeles, Calif. – The Los Angeles City Council voted today to end the sale of most flavored tobacco products, including e-cigarettes and menthol cigarettes. The action, once final, would make Los Angeles the largest city in the country to end the sale of menthol cigarettes. However, the Council opted to exempt flavored shisha (also known as hookah).

Once Los Angeles enacts the ordinance, it would become the 129th local jurisdiction in California to adopt a regulation restricting the sale of flavored tobacco products, protecting an aggregate population of nearly 16.5 million or roughly 42% of the total state population.

Smoking is the number one cause of preventable death and leads to a third of all cancer deaths in California and the nation. The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN), the nation’s leading cancer patient advocacy organization, supports ending the sale of all flavored tobacco products as a critical step to reduce tobacco use and address health disparities.

Statement from Dr. Willie Goffney, surgical oncologist and ACS CAN ambassador volunteer:

"We thank the Los Angeles City Council for building a healthier and more equitable environment for our children, friends and neighbors by ending the sale of most flavored tobacco products. It is our hope that other jurisdictions across the state continue this trend in adopting even stronger policies.

"According to a recent survey released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, among youth who currently used any tobacco product, 8 out of 10 used a flavored product. Overall, Black youth had the highest combustible tobacco use rates, including smoking cigars at more than double the rate of their peers.

"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.

"We cannot allow Big Tobacco to keep profiting at the expense of our community’s well-being. ACS CAN will continue to work with local, state and federal lawmakers to pass policies that have been proven to reduce tobacco use and its devastating toll.”

Statement from Primo J. Castro, ACS CAN government relations director:

"Menthol, other candy- and fruit-flavored tobacco products are Big Tobacco’s most alluring gateway to tobacco addiction. By ending the sale of most flavored tobacco products, including menthol cigarettes, Los Angeles has made a significant impact to prioritize the health of roughly 4 million residents and help decrease health disparities.

"But we need to go further to protect Los Angeles children, Black, Brown and Asian American and Pacific Islander communities, as well as populations with limited income and resources, from being systematically targeted by Big Tobacco. Its predatory tactics have deceived children and parents into believing flavored tobacco products are less harmful, which is simply not true and goes against what the research demonstrates.

"The industry’s persistent targeting has led to disproportionate tobacco use rates and devastating effects on the health of our communities:

- In 2020, 19.4% of Black adults reported using a tobacco product including 14.4% who reported using cigarettes. In the Black community, tobacco use continues to be a major risk factor for the three leading causes of death – heart disease, cancer and stroke.

-Thirty percent of American Indian and Alaska Natives use tobacco and have the highest tobacco use prevalence of any racial or ethnic group.

-Cancer, heart disease, strokes and diabetes are the leading causes of death among Latinos, all of which can be caused by smoking.

- The leading causes of cancer death among Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders are lung, liver and colorectal cancer, all of which can be caused by smoking.

- Individuals who are lesbian, gay or bisexual use tobacco at higher rates than those who are straight and those who are transgender use tobacco at higher rates than cisgender individuals.

"We know that any flavored product that is left on the market risks becoming the next go-to product for youth and will allow the tobacco industry to continue to prey on our communities. That is why we will keep working with our councilmembers to advance policies that save lives from tobacco-related diseases like cancer, including strengthening this ordinance by also ending the sale of flavored shisha."


About ACS CAN at 20 
The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) makes cancer a top priority for policymakers at every level of government. ACS CAN empowers volunteers across the country to make their voices heard to influence evidence-based public policy change that saves lives. We believe everyone should have a fair and just opportunity to prevent, find, treat, and survive cancer. Since 2001, as the American Cancer Society’s nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy affiliate, ACS CAN has successfully advocated for billions of dollars in cancer research funding, expanded access to quality affordable health care, and made workplaces, including restaurants and bars, smoke-free. As we mark our 20th anniversary, we’re more determined than ever to stand together with our volunteers and save more lives from cancer. Join the fight by visiting


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