May 31, 2018

Stanton A. Glantz, PhD

RJ Reynolds is getting so worried about Prop E passing that they are starting to tell the truth in some of their advertising

I live in San Francisco, so am getting buried in mail supporting (health groups) and opposing (RJ Reynolds tobacco) Proposition E, which would end the sale of flavored tobacco products in San Francisco.

RJR’s earlier advertising was all about prohibition, but the latest mailer I got (which is also on the No on E website; reproduced below), is more nuanced.   It admits that Prop E does not ban all tobacco products, just flavored tobacco products.  That is correct.

If the voters uphold Prop E, people will still be allowed to sell and buy tobacco products in San Francisco, just not the flavored products that are so important to hooking kids.  Not only is that not a flaw, it's the whole point of Prop E.  (There are, of course, people advocating to prohibit the sale of all tobacco products; Prop E specifically does not do that.)

As we pointed out in our public comment to the FDA on flavors, there is not much evidence to support the claim that adults need flavors to quit smoking.  There is lots of evidence that menthol flavor recruits kids and keeps adults smoking (and using other tobacco products).

So, it was gratifying that RJR is now admitting that one of the products that would be prohibited is menthol cigarettes.  They didn’t mention that RJR sells Newport, the leading menthol cigarette.

Protecting those sales is almost certainly why RJR is working so hard to kill Prop E.

By the way, mint and wintergreen smokeless tobacco is also a product that appeals to kids.  The tobacco companies use menthol (mint) and other flavors to hook kids, then slowly transition them to “full flavor” tobacco.

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