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NEWS UPDATE
A new California law is ending the retail sale of most flavored tobacco products, including menthol.
Learn about the policy
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NEW LAWWILL SAVETHOUSANDS OFBLACK LIVES

Finally, the day has come. Menthol cigarettes and other flavored tobacco products will no longer be sold in stores. The new law stops Big Tobacco from targeting the Black community with its deadly products, predatory product discounts, and manipulative messaging – all in the name of profit. The statewide policy is a huge step toward protecting the lives of our community.

How the law affects you

A new anti-tobacco law will protect Black lives

California’s new flavored tobacco law restricts tobacco retailers from selling most flavored products including menthol cigarettes and does not criminalize individuals for purchasing, using, or possessing (PUP) these products. The authors of the law deliberately crafted it to improve health and health equity for all Californians – and to avoid furthering police harassment of certain communities. For years, many lawmakers have passed policies that focused on penalizing people who use tobacco, particularly kids, believing it would be a deterrent. That has not been the case. In fact, those laws held tragic and unintended consequences, especially for communities of color. They have been ineffective and dangerous. Enforcement of the new flavored tobacco law leaves private citizens out of the equation, thereby avoiding potential for over-policing and criminalization that has disproportionately affected certain communities.
Understand the new law

CALIFORNIA QUITS FLAVORED TOBACCO

Cities and counties across the state have acted to remove flavored tobacco from their communities, and now California voters have followed suit. The new state law ends the sale of flavored tobacco, including vapes and menthol-flavored cigarettes. It’s a huge step in keeping kids from getting hooked on deadly tobacco products. The law will also help save lives in the Black community. For decades, the tobacco industry has marketed menthol cigarettes to communities of color, leading to soaring rates of addiction, disease, and death.
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The Truth

Big Tobacco knowingly sentences us to lifetimes of sickness, disease, and early death.* They don’t see our beauty, our individuality, or our rich history – only how rich we can make them.

When I first learned the ways in which Big Tobacco targets our communities, I was enraged.
They See Us As Easy Targets
Yazmin Monet Watkins
When you try to put something in a specific community, that will harm them, you don’t care about them.
They Don’t Care About Us
Cram Nory B.
The menthol makes it easier to smoke because you’re not feeling the harmful effects. But those harmful effects are still there.
Menthol Cigarettes 101
Danami-Maurice Champion
Big Tobacco targets us because they think we are just easy money. They get cash, we get killed.
MENTHOL CIGARETTES ARE KILLING BLACK COMMUNITIES
To think about how many ways they have specifically reached out to us… it makes me so upset.
Real Artists Speak the Truth About Menthol Cigarettes
Yazmin Monet Watkins
For decades the tobacco industry has infiltrated Black communities and institutions.
Black Lives/Black Lungs
Ritney Castine
Menthol has taken my heart, and ripped it out, with no remorse.
WHAT MENTHOL CIGARETTES TOOK FROM ME
Six Footah the Poet
It’s frustrating to me that menthol cigarettes and Big Tobacco is making money on African Americans and low income communities
Goapele Talks About How Big Tobacco Took Her Father
Goapele
Vultures target dying things. I’m used to our community being targeted by people looking for money.
Big Tobacco Preys On Us
Kito Fortune
When I first learned the ways in which Big Tobacco targets our communities, I was enraged.
They See Us As Easy Targets
Yazmin Monet Watkins
When you try to put something in a specific community, that will harm them, you don’t care about them.
They Don’t Care About Us
Cram Nory B.
The menthol makes it easier to smoke because you’re not feeling the harmful effects. But those harmful effects are still there.
Menthol Cigarettes 101
Danami-Maurice Champion
Big Tobacco targets us because they think we are just easy money. They get cash, we get killed.
MENTHOL CIGARETTES ARE KILLING BLACK COMMUNITIES
Menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars have been and are the main vectors of death and disease in the African American community. There is nothing better to do now to show that Black lives matter than to get menthol cigarettes out of our community.
Dr. Phillip Gardiner, Co-Chair of the African American Tobacco Control Leadership Council (AATCLC)
Learn More

MANIPULATIONAND DECEIT

Reynolds American Inc. (RAI), the second largest tobacco company in the US and maker of Newport cigarettes, the best-selling menthols in the US, infiltrates our community without us knowing it by giving money to Black organizations, and using them to spread misinformation about how local bans on the sale of flavored tobacco products, including menthol cigarettes, work.*

Big Tobacco hosts a town hall meeting

Looks like justice. Look again.

Big Tobacco pays Black leaders to be part of community events that are disguised as events addressing the criminal justice system and decriminalizing the Black community, exploiting community concerns about this important issue. In reality, these events mislead the community about how restrictions on the sale of menthol cigarettes work.*
In this community town hall flyer, it looks like National Action Network (NAN), a civil rights organization, is hosting the event, but look at who’s really behind it.*
Reynolds American Inc. (RAI) is really behind this event, paying for the travel costs of the panelists and making contributions to the panelists’ organizations. But RAI buried their name on the flyer and made it look like NAN was the main sponsor of the event – why? Because, RAI is using Black voices to lure people to the event to spread misinformation about menthol cigarette sales bans to protect Big Tobacco’s bottom line.*
Town hall panelist, LEAP (Law Enforcement Action Partnership), is one of the many organizations that accepts money from Big Tobacco and advocates for what the tobacco industry wants – to keep deadly menthol cigarettes on the market.*

OP-ED ARTICLE BY A MEMBER OF LEAP

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"...speaker for the Law Enforcement Action Partnership, a nonprofit of law enforcement officers who want to improve the criminal justice system."

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"To draw up a ban – which could result in criminal consequences – only against products favored by people of color seems not only unjust but also remarkably insensitive..."

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"I oppose criminalizing menthol tobacco along with other flavored tobaccos because this ban would disproportionately affect Black and Brown people..."

FOLLOW THE MONEY

Op-ed article by a member of LEAP, an organization that takes Big Tobacco money and advocates for Big Tobacco’s bottom line.*
LEAP uses their speakers to oppose menthol sales bans while taking tens of thousands of dollars from Big Tobacco.* They falsely claim that once a menthol sales ban goes into effect, it will criminalize people who are in possession of menthol cigarettes.
The truth is, nearly all California cities and counties with flavored tobacco policies that ban the sale of menthol cigarettes are thoughtfully written to ensure that users of menthol cigarettes and vapes cannot be punished.*
Nearly all local flavored tobacco policies in California penalize retailers who sell tobacco for selling menthol cigarettes. These local policies fine or suspend tobacco retailer licenses if there’s a violation.*

BIG TOBACCO FLYER

MORE LIES

Big Tobacco’s flyer claims e-cigarettes are the real flavored tobacco problem, but deceptively leaves out important facts about how menthol cigarettes have devastated the Black community.
This flyer is pro-menthol propaganda created by Reynolds American (RAI). Big Tobacco wants you to believe that menthol cigarettes aren’t a real problem, but they have been preying on our community for decades, leaving disease and death in its wake.
Tobacco kills more African Americans annually than AIDS, alcohol, car accidents, illegal drugs, murders and suicides COMBINED.* The flavored tobacco issue isn’t just about protecting kids, it’s about saving the lives of our community. Bottom line: Big Tobacco cares more about their pockets than our lives.*
Menthols are a deadly flavored tobacco product.* That doesn’t need to be compared to e-cigarettes to know it’s wrong.
Learn more about Big Tobacco’s history with menthol cigarettes.

COMMUNITY SUPPORT

Stopping Big Tobacco has required the hard work and dedication of so many. These are our friends in the fight to end the tobacco industry’s targeting.

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