American Heart Association statement on Massachusetts Senate’s support of flavored tobacco ban

The American Heart Association praised the Massachusetts Senate on Wednesday night for voting to protect future generations of Massachusetts residents from a lifetime of deadly tobacco and nicotine addiction.

The Association especially thanked Senate President Karen Spilka (D-Worcester) and Sens. John Keenan (D-Quincy), Harriette Chandler (D-Worcester), Julian Cyr (D-Truro), Jason Lewis (D-Winchester) and Jo Comerford (D-Northampton) for their leadership in what could become the strongest action taken by a state against flavored tobacco, including menthol cigarettes, in the country.

“The Senate’s vote to support removing all flavors from tobacco products is essential for reducing their appeal to youth,” said Allyson Perron Drag, government relations director for the American Heart Association in Massachusetts. “The evidence is clear that flavors have played a key role in increasing their appeal among our children. Today’s vote is a crucial step in protecting future generations from a lifetime of addiction to deadly tobacco products.”

The Senate’s vote comes one week after the House voted in support of a bill that would eliminate the sale of flavored tobacco products, including mint and menthol, in Massachusetts. The bill would also impose an excise tax on all electronic cigarettes.

The following may be attributed to the American Heart Association:

  • Menthol cigarettes are heavily marketed to African American smokers, 85% of whom use menthol products. Menthol is also popular with Latinos, 45% of whom use menthol products.
  • Because menthol products produce a cooling and soothing effect, and because candy-flavored tobacco products are more attractive to kids, they are considered good ‘starter products’ for youth and other inexperienced tobacco users.
  • More than half of all youth and young adult smokers now smoke menthol cigarettes. Younger populations have the highest rate of smoking menthol cigarettes. Menthol’s effects are not limited to cigarettes; menthol is also a popular flavor in other combustible products and in e-cigarettes.
  • Menthol is the preferred flavor for 12.9% of adult cigar users. African American neighborhoods have a disproportionately high number of tobacco retailers and pervasive tobacco marketing, especially of menthol products.
  • Nearly 90% of smokers first try a tobacco product by age 18.
  • Experimentation with cigarettes by adolescents, even on an infrequent basis, is associated with an established smoking habit as an adult.
  • E-cigarette use in high school students increased from 1.5% in 2011 to 20.8% in 2018, nationwide
  • In 2018, e-cigarette use nearly doubled in high school students, from 11% in the previous year to 21% in 2018; in 10th graders, the increase was from 8.2% to 16.1%.
  • E-Cigarettes are the most popular tobacco product among adolescents in the United States.

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About the American Heart Association
The American Heart Association is a relentless force for a world of longer, healthier lives. We are dedicated to ensuring equitable health in all communities. Through collaboration with numerous organizations, and powered by millions of volunteers, we fund innovative research, advocate for the public’s health and share lifesaving resources. The Dallas-based organization has been a leading source of health information for nearly a century. Connect with us on heart.orgFacebookTwitter or by calling 1-800-AHA-USA1.

For media inquiries:
Christopher Camire
Senior Director of Communications
978-758-4908
chris.camire@heart.org

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