Columbus (Ohio) City Council Votes… | Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids
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Columbus (Ohio) City Council Votes to End Sale of Flavored Tobacco Products, Delivering Huge Win for Kids Over Big Tobacco

Statement of Matthew L. Myers, President, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids:
December 12, 2022

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Columbus City Council today took bold action to protect kids from tobacco addiction, save lives and advance health equity by voting unanimously (7-0) to end the sale of flavored tobacco products – including flavored e-cigarettes, menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars. The City Council deserves enormous credit for standing up to the tobacco industry and taking lifesaving action to end the industry’s predatory targeting of kids, Black Americans and other communities with flavored tobacco products.

We also applaud the City Council for investing resources in an innovative, holistic approach to helping Columbus residents quit using tobacco products. The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids is committed to working with the City Council and our local partners to support these efforts.

We applaud City Council President Shannon Hardin, Councilmember Shayla Favor and all councilmembers who voted for the ordinance, as well as Mayor Andrew Ginther, for their leadership in protecting the health of Columbus’ kids and promoting health equity. We also thank the Coalition to End Tobacco Targeting, made up of community groups, public health organizations and faith institutions, for their determined advocacy in support of this legislation.

Flavored products have fueled the current epidemic of youth e-cigarette use, with nearly 30% of Ohio high school currently using e-cigarettes. Nationally, more than 2.5 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.

In addition, cheap, flavored cigars – sold in hundreds of flavors like cherry dynamite, tropical twist and chocolate – have flooded the market in recent years and fueled the popularity of these products with kids. The 2022 National Youth Tobacco Survey shows that cigars are the second most popular tobacco product (after e-cigarettes) among all high school students and are especially popular among Black high school students.