March 27, 2018

Stanton A. Glantz, PhD

The tobacco industry is right to be worried about San Francisco’s ban on flavored tobacco products

Tired of waiting for the FDA to deal with menthol and other flavored tobacco products, last fall the San Francisco Board of Supervisors passed a law ending the sale of all flavored tobacco products, including menthol.  While other cities have passed restrictions on flavored tobacco products, the San Francisco law is the most comprehensive.  Big tobacco in the person of RJ Reynolds dropped into town and is spending millions to convince voters to reject the law in a referendum election in June.

Why is the industry so hysterical about menthol/flavor bans?  There is lots of survey research showing that many menthol smokers say that, without menthol cigarettes, they would just quit altogether.

Now, a new study, “Association of Ontario’s Ban on Menthol Cigarettes With Smoking Behavior 1 Month After Implementation,” shows that they were right to be worried.  This  study asked menthol smokers in Ontario, Canada, what they would do if menthol cigarettes were not available and found that even more smokers quit than predicted once sales of menthol cigarettes ended.  Because the Ontario law did not include e-cigarettes and the San Francisco law does, one would expect an even bigger health benefit in San Francisco.

Phil Gardiner and I wrote a commentary on this paper with particular emphasis on how it was relevant to San Francisco, “Local Movement to Ban Menthol Tobacco Products as a Result of Federal Inaction,” which you can read here

You can read the website that the RJR funded campaign opposing the ordinance here and the health groups supporting it here.

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