[Watch previous FOX 8 News coverage in the player above.]
CLEVELAND (WJW) — Legislation to outlaw the sale of flavored tobacco products in Cleveland, impacting e-cigarettes and menthol cigarettes, has been sitting before the city council for the better part of a year.
It’s meant to stop the sale of products targeted at youngsters and Black people — groups at increased risk of early addiction and disease later in life. But it’s still under administrative review and hasn’t seen any new action since it was introduced on Feb. 6, according to the city council’s legislative website. It was expected to go to the council’s health committee in April, FOX 8 News previously reported.
A group including Black community leaders, American Heart Association representatives and Cleveland Department of Public Health Director Dr. David Margolius, met Thursday at the Hilton Cleveland Downtown, renewing their push for councilmembers to approve the measure, according to a Friday news release from the local Campaign to End Tobacco Targeting.
The health department put forth legislation to ban the sale of flavored tobacco products — with an exception for hookahs and hookah bars — which would take effect immediately upon passage.
Read the full amendment below:
Though youth e-cigarette use is down in 2023, it’s still prevalent. Nearly half of youngsters who tried them at least once are still using them, according to the latest National Youth Tobacco Survey.
About 1 in 4 kids said they used e-cigarette products daily — most of them flavored. About 10% of middle- and high-schoolers surveyed, about 2.8 million kids, said they were currently using some kind of tobacco product.
More than one-third of all Cleveland residents smoke cigarettes. That’s one of the highest smoking rates in the U.S., and more than twice the national average, according to the Cleveland Department of Public Health.
“The life expectancy for the residents of Cleveland, as many of us know, is about 10 to 20 years shorter than it is just in the inner ring suburbs, so if you look at, like, the Buckeye neighborhood, life expectancy is 65. Move over to Beachwood and it’s in the 80s,” Margolius told FOX 8 News in February.
Cigarettes are the leading cause of preventable disease, disability and death nationwide, and Black people are disproportionately affected, according to the campaign. Each year, 45,000 Black people die due to tobacco use, according to the release.
Cancer and heart disease — both of which are caused by smoking — are the two leading causes of death among Black people, according to the amendment before council.
“Ending the sale of flavored tobacco in Cleveland would immediately put more than 2,500 people on a path to better health and longer lives,” Kayla Griffin, president of the NAACP Cleveland Branch, is quoted in the Thursday news release. “Data from other communities demonstrates that we can protect the health of Cleveland children and still have a strong retail economy. We must prioritize our kids and other vulnerable populations.”
The city of Columbus has already enacted its own ban on flavored tobacco products, which takes effect on Jan. 1, 2024.