On June 5, voters in San Francisco preserved a local ordinance that prohibits the sale of flavored tobacco products, including menthol cigarettes. By saying yes to Proposition E (Prop. E) by a decisive 68% to 32% margin, voters chose to keep the restriction, a great public health victory for the city.
This accomplishment came despite a multi-million-dollar campaign by R.J. Reynolds tobacco company to overturn the prohibition. Big Tobacco ran a heavily funded campaign against the ordinance, hoping to continue targeting youth and young adults with its harmful products.
"We have seen the tobacco industry's efforts to push candy-flavored products on children and target flavoring campaigns in minority communities in hopes of hooking a new generation of tobacco users. San Francisco's rejection of that agenda should inspire and empower other communities across the country to take similar action," said Chris Hansen, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) president.
ACS CAN joined several organizations to support the Yes on Prop E campaign. The campaign's success is due in large part to the commitment of ACS CAN volunteers, staff, and grassroots teams, who dedicated their time and energy to stand up to Big Tobacco and provide a healthier future for San Francisco.
Following the historic vote, Malia Cohen, the San Francisco supervisor who pioneered the landmark decision to get all flavored tobacco products off all store shelves in San Francisco, commended the Yes on Prop. E coalition, saying, "What we have accomplished is incredible. We are beating the odds and forging a new reality."
By choosing to preserve the sales restriction on flavored tobacco, San Francisco voters chose to protect children and other community members from the dangers of tobacco, especially flavored tobacco products that can pose an even greater risk of addiction.