DC Mayor signs law banning the sale of flavored tobacco and menthol cigarettes
DC now officially bans the sale of flavored tobacco products and menthol cigarettes throughout the city.
DC officially bans the sale of flavored tobacco products and menthol cigarettes throughout the city.
Mayor Muriel Bowser released a statement after signing the bill, which was passed by DC council last month.
“We know that black residents are disproportionately affected by tobacco use, and flavored tobacco, including menthol, continues to have a particularly insidious effect on our community,” Bowser said. “Today we are taking an extremely effective step to reduce tobacco initiation and tobacco addiction in Washington, DC”
Members of the public health community also support the new law.
“I think this is a big step for the district,” said Dr. Anjali Malik, breast imaging radiologist at Washington Radiology and member of the Medical Society of DC.
Malik has said that tobacco products can cause all kinds of cancer, and believes the 2021 law to ban flavored tobacco products also goes beyond reducing health risks.
Among black smokers, Malik said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found 75% purchase of menthols.
“Our residents have significant health disparities, especially in the past year that we have seen with the COVID-19 outbreak but also with cardiovascular disease and diabetes,” said Malik. “This is a huge victory for the residents of the district.
But critics are concerned about the negative impact on young people, who are typically targeted by companies that sell flavored tobacco, as well as communities of color.
During the June 29 legislative session, in which DC council approved the ban, Ward 5 council member Kenyan McDuffie was particularly concerned about the addition of the law part on menthol cigarettes.
McDuffie predicts it could lead to a black market that shapes law enforcement by attracting police.
Malik believes the health benefits outweigh other concerns and is optimistic about the future application of the law.
“It’s definitely going to have a positive impact on communities of color, hopefully,” said Malik. “I hope the measure is to prevent this from being a police effort, and that a greater regulatory effort will prevent over-surveillance in a population that already suffers from it.”
In his statement, Bowser also said that “reducing tobacco use is about health equity”.
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