Columbus City Council bans flavored vaping and menthol products

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Joe Camel – RJ Reynolds Tobacco Company’s smiling, saxophone-playing cartoon advertising creative – took its last whiff in 1997 after taking heat from then-President Bill Clinton and a long list of others who spotted what’s really behind those dark shades: a ploy to attract a new generation of consumers by convincing kids that smoking is fun and cool.

As grim as it is, the campaign was working before Joe Camel ignited.

The Federal Trade Commission accused than RJ Reynolds “succeeded in attracting many children and adolescents under the age of 18, inciting many young people to start smoking or continuing to smoke cigarettes and, consequently, caused significant damage to their health and safety. “

12-year-old Michael Mendoza models a promotional jacket with

A 1991 Journal of the American Medical Association A study found that 91% of six-year-olds could correctly associate an image of bad boy Joe with the products he was selling: cigarettes.

Dig deeper:Kids around the world now recognize cigarette brand logos

An almost equal number of Mickey Mouse linked to 6-year-olds with Disney.

Targeting efforts didn’t stop with Joe Camel’s face

Joe hung up his glasses, but the tobacco industry never gave up trying to attract near-permanent customers, especially black, brown, and economically disadvantaged young people.

Map showing where tobacco retailers are located in relation to private and public schools in Columbus.  Aside from High Street, most retailers are located in a neighborhood with a black population of 25% or more.

This is illustrated by maps developed by Ice Miller LLP as part of a study that exposes the predatory practices of tobacco retailers here in Columbus who use flavored electronic cigarettes (vaping) and menthol products who have targeted black people for decades.

The Coalition to End Tobacco Targetingan organization that represents 125 Greater Columbus community organizations, public health advocacy agencies and faith-based institutions, is calling on the city to pass legislation banning the sale of menthol cigarettes and all flavored tobacco products.

It would be legal for people to use and own the products, but they could not be legally sold by Columbus retailers.

Columbus Public Health, the agency that would be responsible for enforcing the ban at retailers, is working with the coalition and exploring options, a spokeswoman said.

There are obvious reasons why the city council should ban the sale of flavored tobacco and menthol cigarettes.

Traps are set to attract children

Graph showing tobacco retailers in selected Columbus neighborhoods by household income.

Retailers of all kinds naturally flock to areas such as high street to meet the needs of the most economically advantaged.

But for companies selling tobacco products, the more economically deprived areas of our community seem so much more attractive.

Colorful signs literally lure children in with candy-flavored tobacco.

After:Angel: Big Tobacco Industry Lures Black Teenagers To Death With Candy E-Cigarettes

The maps show where tobacco retailers are located in relation to Champion and Wedge Colleges and Eakin Elementary School.  The white dots represent the center of the circle.  The red triangles are tobacco

For example, there are eight tobacco retailers within a quarter mile of Champion Middle School and 13 locations selling the flashy goods within a half mile of South High School, Ice Miller found.

“It would be hard to go to school without running into one of these retailers,” Chris Magill, director of economic development for the law firm, told us.

There are 863 tobacco retailers in the 226 square mile city of Columbus. Ice Miller found that outside of the High Street, most of it is concentrated in low-income neighborhoods that have a black population above 25%. Many of these areas have the highest cases of chronic diseases such as asthma, COPD and diabetes.

Map showing where tobacco retailers are in relation to asthma.  Aside from High Street, most retailers are located in a neighborhood with a black population of 25% or more.

This includes 77 in the 15.5 square mile Hilltop neighborhood; 42 in North Linden of 4.91 square miles; 54 by 7.07 square miles Southside and 22 by 10.6 square miles Franklinton.

The 1.09 square mile area of ​​Livingston Avenue with an average family income of $35,000 had 15 tobacco retail outlets. This area is bordered by Livingston, Whittier Street, Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial Highway, and just before Grant Street.

That compares to 23 tobacco vendors in the 6.14 square miles of Clintonville which has an average household income of $97,000 and 16 retailers in 11.3 square miles of West Scioto, which has an average household income of $85,000.

After:Coalition to End Tobacco Targeting Calls on City to End Sale of Flavored Tobacco Products

Columbus must act

Governor Mike DeWine displays a poster with the different flavors of nicotine vaping liquid that he and other experts say are aimed at young people.  He says banning young people under 21 from buying tobacco could reduce health risks. [Randy Ludlow/Dispatch]

The Coalition to End Tobacco Targeting is supported by a list of leaders including former Mayor of Columbus Michael B. Coleman, Ice Miller’s governmental law partner; Congresswoman Joyce Beatty; President of the Urban League of Columbus and CEO Stephanie Hightower; Christie Angel, President and CEO of YWCA Columbus, Ohio Rep. Dontavius ​​Jarrells, D-Columbus; and Columbus City Council Pro Tempore President Elizabeth Brown.

Michael Coleman:“I thought smoking was cool.” Menthols almost came to life, ban on selling them here

The city of Columbus has declared racism a health crisis in 2020. There are fewer clear examples of orchestrated health disparities than that.

The Dispatch editorial board joins the call to ban the sale of flavored tobacco and menthol cigarettes.

These products send people of all races to past graves, but companies and retailers are aggressively targeting members of black and brown communities, taking advantage of vulnerabilities to secure their profits.

Map showing where tobacco retailers are in relation to diabetes.  Aside from High Street, most retailers are located in a neighborhood with a black population of 25% or more.

After:What has been done to address racism as a public health crisis in Columbus?

The city wouldn’t be alone in doing so, but would lead the way in Ohio. Tobacco Free Kids says 160 communities across the country are restricting the sale of menthol cigarettes and other flavored tobacco products used for vaping. In 2019, Massachusetts became the first state to restrict the sale of all flavored tobacco.

The following year, New York, Rhode Island and New Jersey banned the sale of flavored e-cigarette products. California banned the sale of flavored e-cigarettes and menthol cigarettes in 2020, but a referendum vote likely to overturn the law is on the ballot in November

Councilor Joyce Beatty discusses the importance of ending the sale of flavored tobacco products to benefit youth and the black community at a press conference for the Coalition to End Tobacco Targeting Thursday, August 4 2022.

A matter of life or death

Targeting black people is nothing new and it’s one of the reasons the FDA proposed rules in April that would ban the sale of cigars and cigarettes flavored with menthol, a taste and aroma additive. of mint which “reduces the irritation and harshness of smoking“. .”

Map showing where tobacco retailers are in relation to COPD.  Aside from High Street, most retailers are located in a neighborhood with a black population of 25% or more.

According to the FDA, nearly 85% of all non-Hispanic black smokers use menthol cigarettes. This compares to 30% of non-Hispanic white smokers.

The 2021 Report “Stop Menthol, Save Lives”says that less than 10% of black smokers used menthol cigarettes in 1950.

Due to aggressive advertising, promotions, pricing and availability today, 85% of black smokers use menthol cigarettes.

Black people accounted for 40% of deaths from menthol smoking between 1980 and 2018, despite the fact that black people make up only about 12% of this country’s population, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

A study cited by the FDA estimated a 15% reduction in smoking within 40 years if menthol cigarettes were no longer available in the United States

Between 2011 and 2018, menthol cigarette use declined among non-Hispanic white youth, but not among non-Hispanic Hispanic or black youth, according to the agency.

Vaping appeals to children

Map showing where tobacco retailers are located in relation to schools.  The white dot represents the center of the circle.  The red triangles are tobacco retailers.  The green circles are schools.

Just like with Joe Camel, it’s no mistake that candy-colored wrappers and advertisements are used to lure kids into flavored tobacco. Citing studies published by the Journal of the American Medical Association, Tobacco Free Kids says at least 66% of young smokers consume tobacco products “because they come in flavors that I love” and half who ever smoked started with menthol cigarettes.

Jhe reports the CDC that in 2021, eight out of 10 middle and high school smokers reported using a flavored tobacco product in the past month.

It is not a mistake that the products taste like cotton candy, chewing gum, cloves, fruits, mint and chocolate.

The tobacco company knows how to lure children to the flame.

Columbus should ban flavored tobacco and menthol cigarettes to ensure fewer people are burned from years of nicotine addiction and the health problems that often come with it.

What do you think?

Should the sale of flavored vape tobacco and menthol cigarettes be banned in Columbus? Let us know in a letter to the editor emailed to [email protected]

This article was written by Amelia Robinson, Editor-in-Chief of Dispatch Opinion, on behalf of The Dispatch Editorial Board. Editorials are our Board’s factual assessment of issues important to the communities we serve. These are not the opinions of our reporting staff, who strive to be neutral in their reporting.

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