Shortly after polls closed last Tuesday evening, the YES on Prop 31 campaign declared victory over Big Tobacco in the fight to end the sale of candy-flavored products, including minty-menthol cigarettes. 

The California legislature overwhelmingly voted to support the end of flavored tobacco with Senate Bill 793 in 2020; and with voters now affirming that decision on the ballot, California is poised to save billions of dollars in future tobacco-related healthcare costs and save countless lives from a future of nicotine addiction and smoking-caused death, according to the YES campaign.

The broad coalition of public health advocates, doctors, and parents supporting Prop 31 released the following statements:

“In California’s battle against Big Tobacco, voters have overwhelmingly decided to protect kids from being lured into a lifetime of addiction to nicotine,” said Lindsey Freitas, regional advocacy director, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.

“By stopping tobacco companies from using candy flavors to hook another generation of kids, Proposition 31 will save countless lives in the years to come. And it sets a powerful example for other states and cities, as well as the FDA, which has proposed nationwide regulations prohibiting menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars.”

“California voters have sent a resounding message that Black lives matter,” said Carol McGruder, co-chair of the African American Tobacco Control Leadership Council. “Ending the sale of menthol cigarettes and flavored tobacco products will save countless Black lives in California in the decades to come.”

“Tobacco use remains the leading preventable cause of cancer and cancer deaths. And flavors are the main reason youth use tobacco products and mistakenly perceive them as less harmful,” said Jim Knox, managing director, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN).

“With their vote, Californians have blocked Big Tobacco’s deplorable attempt to keep targeting kids and communities of color with fruit- and candy-flavored products; they have taken a critical step towards reducing tobacco use, promoting health equity and ending cancer as we know it, for everyone.”

“Proposition 31 is California’s antidote to the candy-flavored poison Big Tobacco has been peddling to our kids and communities of color,” said Fmr. Sen. Jerry Hill, author of SB 793. “With the implementation of Prop 31 comes a strong layer of protection against tobacco companies’ ability to lure kids into smoking and a lifetime of addiction to nicotine; and Californians will live longer, healthier lives as a result.”

“We are pleased California voters have voted in favor of Proposition 31, allowing a statewide ban on flavored tobacco to go into effect,” said Senior Vice President and Chief Health Officer Bechara Choucair, M.D. “Taking flavored e-cigarettes off the shelves will support the work Kaiser Permanente does every day to keep kids away from tobacco. It also marks the end of a decades-long, unjust targeting of African American communities in California with promotion of highly addictive mint and menthol cigarettes.” 

“California’s parents are thrilled by this resounding win for our children, and this huge defeat for Big Tobacco,” said Meredith Berkman, co-founder, Parents Against Vaping e-Cigarettes (PAVe). “By ending the sales of all flavored tobacco products, California-only the second state to do so-sends a clear message to the tobacco industry that America’s parents will not allow the insidious use of flavors and other predatory marketing tactics to continue.”

“Once again, Californians resoundingly voted in support of protecting kids and standing up to Big Tobacco,” said Harold Wimmer, president and CEO of the American Lung Association. “With Yes on 31 passing, California will finally be able to implement its strong flavored tobacco law. We call on states and localities nationwide to continue to pass comprehensive laws to end the sales of all flavored tobacco products, including menthol cigarettes and e-cigarettes, and for the FDA to quickly move forward to finalize its rules on menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars.”

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