Tobacco use remains the leading cause of preventable death and disease in the United States and in California. To address this enormous toll, the American Lung Association calls for the following actions to be taken by California's elected officials:
- Restrict the sale of flavored tobacco products, including menthol;
- Address secondhand smoke in multi-unit housing; and
- Reduce youth access to tobacco products.
At the local level, there was a huge uptick in the number of communities pursuing and adopting policies restricting the sale of flavored tobacco products, including menthol. There are currently a total of 29 policies addressing flavored products, 23 of which include menthol. This includes the city of San Francisco, which became the largest city in the country to completely prohibit the sale of all flavored tobacco products, including menthol. The Lung Association was a crucial player in the fight in San Francisco, where the tobacco industry spent over $12 million dollars in an unsuccessful attempt to defeat the ballot initiative on this issue. Ultimately, in June 2018 the voters sided with the Lung Association, and overwhelmingly voted to support the initiative 68 percent to 31 percent.
Many other local communities are also making important strides toward a future free of tobacco-related disease. In 2018, communities such as Beverly Hills, Emeryville, Clayton, Ross, Citrus Heights, Half Moon Bay, and Rohnert Park all adopted strong policies to protect their citizens from harmful secondhand smoke in multi-unit housing.
Recent statewide polling conducted by the Lung Association shows strong support (71%) for local policies to restrict the sale of flavored tobacco products in youth sensitive areas, and strong support (72%) for policies that prohibit exposure to secondhand smoke in areas frequented by the public. These polls clearly indicated the public is ready for action on these important issues.
With the public support behind these issues, in 2019 the American Lung Association in California will continue to fight for policies that protect youth from accessing tobacco products through local policies that restrict the sale of flavored tobacco products and new types of tobacco products. Additional efforts will seek to improve the quality of life of individuals with lung disease living in multi-unit housing, by adopting local policies that restrict tobacco use in those properties