October 9, 2018

Stanton A. Glantz, PhD

Putting the successful defense of San Francisco’s prohibition on sale of flavored tobacco products in context

Tony Yang and I just published “San Francisco Voters End the Sale of Flavored Tobacco Products Despite Strong Industry Opposition” in Annals of Internal Medicine.  This paper puts the successful defense of the San Francisco Flavor Ban Ordinance in a broader policy and public health context.  It concludes:

Despite challenges from tobacco companies, states and localities have clear authority to restrict the sale of flavored tobacco products to reduce tobacco use and its harms to citizens. At least 2 states and more than 100 localities have passed restrictions on the sale of flavored tobacco products, although laws differ in their applicability to specific products and store types. However, Proposition E represents a major step forward because it is the nation's first comprehensive ban on the sale of flavored tobacco, and it has already inspired others to follow.

San Francisco voters showed that with appropriate support for public health campaigns, it is possible to overcome more heavily financed efforts by Big Tobacco if there is enough funding to spread the message. RJR's attempt to roll back the law illustrates how critical flavors are to the tobacco industry's efforts to hook children and keep adults smoking, a lesson that public health advocates should take to heart. In the absence of FDA action, other cities should prioritize passing similar legislation in order to safeguard against addiction and preventable death, especially among vulnerable and minority populations.

The full citation is Yang YT, Glantz S. San Francisco Voters End the Sale of Flavored Tobacco Products Despite Strong Industry Opposition. Ann Intern Med. [Epub ahead of print ] doi: 10.7326/M18-2317.  It is available here.

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