Denver Mayor Hancock Sides with… | Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids
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Denver Mayor Hancock Sides with Tobacco Industry Over Kids in Vetoing Ordinance to End Sale of Flavored Tobacco Products; City Council Should Override Veto

Statement of Matthew L. Myers, President, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids
December 10, 2021

WASHINGTON, D.C. – It is deeply disappointing that Mayor Michael Hancock has sided with the tobacco industry over Denver’s kids and health by vetoing the ordinance to end the sale of flavored tobacco products in the city. By succumbing to tobacco industry pressure, he has given the industry free rein to keep addicting a new generation of kids and missed a tremendous opportunity to improve public health and save lives in Denver for generations to come. We strongly urge the City Council to override the mayor’s veto and crack down on the tobacco industry’s most pernicious tactic for luring and addicting kids – the marketing of flavored products.

Earlier this week the Council voted 8-3 to end the sale of flavored tobacco products – including flavored e-cigarettes, menthol cigarettes and most flavored cigars. Such bold action would protect kids from tobacco addiction, save lives and advance health equity. It would help end the industry’s predatory targeting of Black communities with menthol cigarettes – a form of institutional racism that has taken a devastating toll on Black lives and health, is a major cause of health disparities, and must be stopped once and for all.

Flavored products have fueled the current epidemic of youth e-cigarette use. Nationally, over 2 million kids use e-cigarettes, with a growing percentage of them using e-cigarettes frequently or daily – a sure sign of addiction. And 85% use flavored products.

Flavored products have also long been a favorite tobacco industry strategy for targeting kids, Black Americans, Latinos, the LGBTQ community and other communities. Half of all kids who ever try smoking start with menthol cigarettes. The evidence shows that menthol makes it easier for kids to start smoking and harder for smokers to quit. Because of the tobacco industry’s predatory marketing, 85% of Black smokers now smoke menthol cigarettes, compared to less than 10% in the 1950s. Menthol cigarettes are a major reason why tobacco use is the number one cause of preventable death among Black Americans – claiming 45,000 Black lives every year – and why Black Americans have a harder time quitting smoking and are more likely to die from tobacco-related diseases like lung cancer, heart disease and stroke.

We applaud Council Members Amanda Sawyer and Debbie Ortega for their leadership in working to protect the health of Denver’s kids and promoting health equity. It is deeply unfortunate that Mayor Hancock has failed to join them in protecting Denver’s kids and public health.