Dear [Decision Maker],
I stand with the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) in asking the Council to mark-up and vote on B23-453 Flavored Electronic Smoking Device Prohibition Amendment Act of 2019.COVID-19 has shined the light on the existing health inequities that have gone on for far too long in the District. Additionally, the youth e-cigarette epidemic still exists, and the use of other flavored tobacco products including menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars are still high. Meanwhile, despite the pandemic, the tobacco industry continues to target market these products to youth and young adults, specifically, the Black and Brown, and LGBTQIA communities--as they attempt to addict and retain customers.
As a result of targeted marketing, while the use of traditional cigarettes have declined, the sale of menthol cigarettes have steadily increased, especially among young people and new smokers. Menthol makes it easier to start smoking by masking the harshness of tobacco smoke. As a result, over half of youth and young adult smokers use menthol cigarettes; among African American youth smokers, seven out of ten use menthol cigarettes. In addition, there are now over 250 different cigar flavors, and cigars surpass cigarettes in popularity among high school boys nationwide. In January 2020, legislation was heard by your committee to end the sale of certain flavored tobacco products. At the time, the legislation was not comprehensive, and the Council promised to move forward with a mark-up and vote--where legislation would be amended to include all flavored tobacco products, including but not limited to, menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars. Too much time has passed with no action by the Council. Allowing flavored tobacco products to stay on store shelves directly and negatively impacts those at lower economic levels residing within DC's health coverage gaps. This year, the American Cancer Society estimates that there will be 300 new cases of lung and bronchus cancer in the District, and 180 District residents are expected to die from these cancers. We must do everything we can to prevent the next generation from ending up on the list.
The time for the Council to act is now! Please amend B23-453 to include all products and all flavors, including but not limited to menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars, and please schedule a vote in the Judiciary and Public Safety Committee. Let's continue to make the District tobacco-free and protect our youth and young adults from cancer!Thank you for your swift action!
Sincerely,[Your Name] [Your Address] [City, State ZIP][Your Email]