Los Angeles County Ban on Sale of… | Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids
sign up

Los Angeles County Ban on Sale of All Flavored Tobacco Products Takes Effect Today; Measure Will Aid in Fight Against COVID-19

Statement of Matthew L. Myers, President, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids
May 01, 2020

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Los Angeles County’s historic law prohibiting the sale of all flavored tobacco products – including candy-flavored e-cigarettes, cigars and menthol cigarettes – takes effect today in all unincorporated areas of the county.  The action couldn’t come at a better time, as health experts are warning that smoking and vaping can worsen the effects of COVID-19.

After years of declining youth tobacco use in California, tobacco companies are addicting a whole new generation of kids to nicotine by targeting them with candy-flavored products. With local, state and national governments all grappling with how to fight COVID-19, improving lung health, getting people to quit smoking and preventing kids from ever becoming tobacco users is more critical than ever.

Los Angeles County passed its ban on the sale of candy-flavored e-cigarettes and other flavored tobacco products before the COVID-19 pandemic, and the City of Los Angeles and the state of California are also considering similar proposals to protect the health of our kids, reduce smoking and vaping, and improve lung health in the age of COVID-19.

There is no time to waste as the youth e-cigarette epidemic has gone from bad to worse. According to the 2019 National Youth Tobacco Survey (2019 NYTS), e-cigarette use among high school students nationwide increased to 27.5% in 2019 compared to 11.7% in 2017. Altogether, more than 5.3 million middle and high school students now use e-cigarettes. The evidence is clear that flavored e-cigarettes have fueled this epidemic – 97% of youth e-cigarette users report using a flavored product in the past month, and 70% cite flavors as the reason for their use.

Flavored products have long been a favorite tobacco industry strategy for targeting kids. In addition to e-cigarettes, flavored cigars have proliferated in recent years and become popular with kids, while more than half of youth smokers – including seven out of ten African-American youth smokers – smoke menthol cigarettes. The evidence shows that menthol makes it easier for kids to start smoking and harder for smokers to quit. The Los Angeles County law helps put an end to the tobacco industry’s long and harmful history of targeting kids and African Americans with menthol cigarettes. The City of Los Angeles, the state of California and others should follow suit.