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Say Next Generation of Black Children Must Be Protected from Deadly Effects of Tobacco with SB 793

Sacramento, CA – Today, Black leaders across the state came together to denounce another new ad campaign Big Tobacco is using to desperately strong-arm legislators into opposing SB 793 (Hill), a bill that would end the sale of flavored tobacco products in California. Big Tobacco is notorious for dumping millions of dollars on slick and misleading ad campaigns to oppose common-sense legislation that will protect kids and save lives.

“Big Tobacco is snatching up ad space on TV and online, spending millions, all in an effort to deceive legislators,” said Assemblymember Kevin McCarty (D-Sacramento). “They market flavors that gets kids hooked on tobacco from an early age & have no place in CA Health Care policy. This is why we need #SB793 to protect our children”

“This ad campaign shows Big Tobacco will continue to cheat Black and brown Californians out of their chance at survival unless lawmakers stand up and vote Yes on SB 793,” said San Francisco Supervisor Shamann Walton. “Tobacco companies have been allowed to market their deadly products in our communities without regard for Black lives and health for far too long. California’s lawmakers must join us and protect the next generation of Black and brown lives from deadly nicotine addiction.”

“Big Tobacco spends billions of dollars year after year targeting kids in low-income and in Black and brown communities with deceitful, slick-looking ad campaigns,” said Phillip Gardiner, Dr. P.H., Co-Chair African American Tobacco Control Leadership Council. “Lawmakers must listen to the trusted voices who now lead this effort to pass SB 793 and stop Big Tobacco from taking more Black lives with their racist lies.”

African Americans are disproportionately affected by COVID-19 and smoking only exacerbates the disease. Over 80 percent of Black smokers use menthols as the direct result of Big Tobacco’s decades of predatory marketing, leading to Black Americans dying from heart disease, lung cancer, stroke and other tobacco-related diseases at rates far higher than whites.

In a recent op-ed in the Sacramento Bee, Representative Karen Bass (D-CA) wrote, “Our lives have never mattered to tobacco companies…There is nothing “minty” or “refreshing” about the cycle of addiction, profit and death Big Tobacco has wrought by pushing their poison in our communities. Now is the time for us to finally hold them accountable.”

“Tobacco companies are lying to us with their slick and deceptive ads, opposing SB793, because they know that once this bill passes, fewer kids will start using their sweet and minty products. I have faith that legislators will stand up for kids like me despite all that tobacco industry money,” said Sophie Thompson, 14, of Pleasanton.

“Big Tobacco shamefully raises the specter of police brutality in an effort to distract lawmakers from the actual fact that the targeted marketing of menthol cigarettes is the source of the leading preventable cause of death for African Americans and other people of color,” said Ed Sanders, Spokesperson, LA Families Fighting Flavored Tobacco Coalition. “Stopping Big Tobacco from targeting a deadlier product at vulnerable communities is the definition of “Good Trouble.”

You can see just how devastating losing a family member to menthol cigarettes is in this spoken-word poem by Six Footah the Poet. Six Footah says, “How do I explain to my child that their life means nothing to you? Because if it did, their future would have the same protection as the kids in the suburbs do. Banning only flavors that only blacks don’t use seems to be important to you.”

Black leaders across California support SB 793, including Representative Karen Bass (D-CA), California State Board of Equalization member Malia Cohen, State Superintendent for Public Instruction Tony Thurmond, Stockton Mayor Michael Tubbs and Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas.