San Francisco Board of Education: Protect Students From Flavored Tobacco

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Dear San Francisco Board of Education:

The tobacco industry employs many methods to get kids and teens to start smoking, knowing that once they get youth started, many will be addicted for life.  Flavored tobacco, which is as deadly as non-flavored tobacco, attracts kids by making tobacco taste like candy, fruit, and mint.  Tobacco companies specifically package the tobacco to look like candy and to be tempting to youth, and have prices aimed right at teens, like selling double packs of flavored little cigars for 99 cents throughout San Francisco.

These deadly products like strawberry cigarillos, cherry blunt wraps, chocolate hookah, and cotton candy vape liquids are sold throughout San Francisco, especially near schools and low-income neighborhoods.  No wonder that 80% of all teen smokers started with some kind of flavored tobacco, and that 95% of African American teen smokers, 55%-60% of Latino and Asian American teen smokers, and over 70% of LGBT young adult smokers use minty menthol cigarettes.  This makes flavored tobacco products an issue of social justice.

When Breathe California’s Project E-NUFF surveyed 150 San Francisco high school students, two-thirds of the students who used blunts said they preferred flavored blunts, and half of those who used e-cigarettes preferred flavored e-cigarettes.  Even though Congress prohibited the sale of almost all flavors of cigarettes in 2009, tobacco companies still use minty menthol cigarettes and other flavored tobacco products to get youth to start smoking.

Together we can close this loophole in San Francisco so that tobacco companies can’t target our kids, especially minority, disadvantaged, and low-income youth, with flavored tobacco.  Healthier kids make for more successful students, but tobacco companies are getting students addicted by putting these flavors in tobacco.

The Board of Education has always been a champion for our youth and their well-being.  Ending the sale of flavored tobacco in San Francisco will help our kids and teens lead healthier lives. We request that the Board of Education pass a resolution calling on the Board of Supervisors to put an end to the sale of flavored tobacco in San Francisco.


References and Links:

Ambrose BK, et al., "Flavored Tobacco Product Use Among US Youth Aged 12-17 Years, 2013-2014."  JAMA 2015; 314(17): 1871-1873.

Giovino GA, et al., "Differential trends in cigarette smoking in the USA: is menthol slowing progress?"  Tobacco Control 2015; 24: 28-37.

National Youth Advocacy Coalition.  2010.  “Coming Out About Smoking:  A Report from the National LGBTQ Young Adult Tobacco Project.”

Breathe California, Golden Gate Public Health Partnership’s Project E-NUFF:

San Francisco Cancer Initiative, which Breathe California is collaborating with on this issue of flavored tobacco:


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