Lack of action on e-cigarette flavors remains concerning

 

(HAWAIʻI) – The Coalition for a Tobacco-Free Hawaiʻi (CTFH), a program of the Hawaiʻi Public Health Institute (HIPHI), applauds the recent announcement by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to eliminate menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars. Jessica Yamauchi, CEO of HIPHI remarks, “While we recognize that this is just the first step in a long regulatory process to transition the market away from menthol products, this announcement is long overdue. Should the FDA succeed, the net effect will undoubtedly be lower smoking rates and lives saved among the nation’s most at-risk populations.”

Hawaiʻi has long been considered a “menthol market” by the tobacco industry and menthol smoking rates among our Filipino, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander adult smokers continue to be much higher than the national average. Predatory tactics and cultural appropriation used to ensnare the African American community have also been employed in Hawaiʻi since at least the mid-1970’s.

Menthol tobacco products are uniquely designed by the industry to initiate tobacco use; their marketing campaigns aggressively target youth, women, LGBTQ+, and BIPOC communities. Nikkya Taliaferro of the CTFH Youth Council and Hawaiʻi for Black Lives states, “Eliminating the availability and marketing of menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars and increasing prevention and cessation services will provide hope in communities where historic declines in tobacco use have stalled. We must not lose sight of the influence of the youth vaping epidemic following another year without any local legislative action, and we are disappointed to note that the FDA announcement does not address all flavors including menthol in e-cigarettes. Nevertheless, we will continue to advocate on behalf of our communities to more effectively regulate availability of these highly addictive products targeting Hawaii’s youth.”

As the FDA works to remove menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars from the market, some people who use menthol cigarettes or flavored cigars may be prompted to quit smoking. To ensure the measure’s good intentions do not exacerbate health inequities, there must be equitable access to support and services for people seeking to quit smoking. Through our work as the Coalition For a Tobacco-Free Hawaiʻi, we will continue to provide tobacco prevention and education services across the state in an ongoing effort to address tobacco-related health disparities as well as Hawaii’s youth vaping epidemic to ensure a new generation remains free of a lifetime of addiction. We will continue to advocate for dedicated funding for prevention and cessation services and remain committed to ensuring local, state and federal policy underpins and supports these efforts.

ABOUT: Coalition for a Tobacco-Free Hawai‘i, a program of Hawai‘i Public Health Institute, is a national trailblazer in reducing tobacco use through education, policy, and advocacy. Hawai‘i Public Health Institute (HIPHI) works to advance the health and wellness of the people and islands of Hawai‘i. Visit hiphi.org.

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RESOURCES

Hawaiʻi Tobacco Quitline
1-800-QUIT-NOW
Local Cessation Resources