FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: August 28, 2020
CONTACT: Jenna Thompson, 949.246.1620, jenna@paschalroth.com

ONE OF THE STRONGEST LIFE-SAVING ANTI-TOBACCO LAWS IN THE NATION SENT TO GOVERNOR’S DESK

Sacramento, CA – After decades of watching Big Tobacco relentlessly trick young people into a lifetime of addiction for profit, the California legislature today took decisive action to finally end the sale of flavored tobacco products – including menthol cigarettes, flavored e-cigarettes and flavored cigarillos – by sending SB 793 (Hill, D-San Mateo) to the Governor’s desk. With Governor Newsom’s signature, the measure would be among the nation’s strongest protections against Big Tobacco’s business model that markets deadly products to kids, saving over 17,000 lives and saving taxpayers $800 million of dollars in healthcare costs.

A coalition of health, youth, and community advocates united to protect kids from the dangers of tobacco use today applauded the Legislature’s action in a statement:

“The California legislature today sent an unmistakable message to Big Tobacco that our children’s health is more important than a deadly industry’s profits,” said Lindsey Freitas, Advocacy Director for Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. “We’re proud our lawmakers stood up to be heroes for healthy kids by reminding Big Tobacco that California won’t be fooled by their smokescreen lies and predatory targeting of our young people. Now it’s up to Governor Newsom to finally stop the tobacco industry from exploiting our lives and health for their profit, especially in vulnerable Black and brown and low-income communities.”

“The American Lung Association thanks the members of the California State Assembly for their support of SB 793 (Hill), which would restrict the sale of flavored tobacco in the state of California,” said Erica Costa, Advocacy Director for the American Lung Association in California. “This critical legislation is vital to protect our youth from getting hooked onto flavored tobacco. We very much thank Speaker Rendon and the other members of the Assembly for their leadership on this critical measure and look forward to continued success in Senate concurrence.”

“This is a major public health victory that provides critically important safeguards to protect both urban and suburban youth from the ravages of tobacco addiction,” said American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network California Managing Director Jim Knox. “Flavored tobacco is fueling the youth e-cigarette epidemic and the tobacco industry disproportionately markets menthol cigarettes to Black, LGBTQ and low-income communities already burdened by tobacco-related disease, including lung cancer.”

“The historic passage of SB 793 in the state senate clearly shows that the health of California’s youth is not for sale. Despite the tobacco industry’s deceptive campaign and deep pockets, public health prevailed. Ending the sale of flavored tobacco products in our state will have tremendous health impacts and protect our youth from a lifetime of addiction,” said Kathy Rogers, Executive Vice President, American Heart Association Western States Region.

“CMA applauds the legislature for leading the charge to end youth tobacco use by passing SB 793,” said CMA President Peter N. Bretan, Jr., M.D. “Now, we urge the Governor to sign this landmark piece of legislation to ensure that we protect our youth from a new generation of highly addictive tobacco products and put an end to the youth tobacco use epidemic.”

“California dentists applaud the leadership of state legislators, who stood up against an aggressive and highly deceptive campaign by the tobacco industry, to ban poisonous flavored tobacco products that are peddled to hook children on nicotine for life,” said Dr. Richard Nagy, president of the California Dental Association. “Use of tobacco products directly correlates to poor oral health outcomes, including cancer. Now, we strongly encourage Gov. Gavin Newsom to sign SB 793.”

Ending the sale of flavored e-cigarettes is critical to help reverse the skyrocketing youth use of e-cigarettes. Just last week, the CDC released its 2019 Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) results, which were a powerful reminder of the severity of the youth e-cigarette epidemic. The YRBS found that 32.7% of U.S. high school students — and over 18% of California high school students — were current e-cigarette users in 2019, up from 13.2% in 2017 and that a large percentage of those youth are heavily addicted. 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.

The coalition includes: the Office of Lieutenant Governor Eleni Kounalakis, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond, Tobacco-Free Kids Action Fund, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, American Heart Association, American Lung Association, and Common Sense Kids Action.