Law will prevent Big Tobacco from targeting kids and minorities in underserved communities
BOSTON, May 30, 2020 – On June 1, Massachusetts will take a bold step in protecting future generations from a lifetime of deadly tobacco addiction, when it becomes the first state in the nation to remove harmful menthol, mint and wintergreen tobacco products from store shelves.
A 75% excise tax on e-cigarettes will also take effect on June 1.
The tobacco industry has a shameful record of targeting youth and adults in minority and underserved populations with menthol products. The result is that African Americans, women, LGBTQ communities, people with mental illness and low-income populations are especially likely to use flavored cigarettes, chewing tobacco and snuff.
African Americans suffer the greatest burden of tobacco-related mortality of any racial or ethnic group in the United States. About 45,000 African Americans die annually from a smoking-caused illness. Menthol flavored tobacco products are a big driver of these disparities.
“We encourage states and cities across the country to follow Massachusetts’ lead and protect youth and young adults from the dangers of nicotine addiction,” said Allyson Perron Drag, government relations director for the American Heart Association in Massachusetts. “Health disparities continue to increase in communities of color and low-income neighborhoods, where menthol cigarettes are marketed extensively. Menthol makes cigarettes easier to smoke and harder to quit. Nearly 65% of young menthol smokers say they would quit if menthol cigarettes were banned.”
Signed by Gov. Charlie Baker in November of 2019, the tobacco law immediately ended the sale of flavored e-cigarettes. At the time, Baker had imposed a temporary ban on the sale of all vaping products following a nationwide outbreak of vaping-related illnesses.
The following may be attributed to the American Heart Association:
- Menthol cigarettes are used at disproportionately higher rates by racial and ethnic minority smokers in the United States, including African Americans (84.6%), Hispanics or Latinos (46.9%) and Asian Americans (38%), compared to white smokers (28.9%).
- Approximately 71% of all young LGBT smokers use menthol cigarettes.
- At least half of all teen smokers in the U.S. use menthol tobacco products, including more than 70% of adolescent African American smokers and more than half of all adolescent Latino smokers.
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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.org, Facebook, Twitter or by calling 1-800-AHA-USA1.