Tobacco and Vape Flavors: Kids and Race

Presented By: Rob Crane, MD & Amanda Swenson Turner

When we all look back at the year 2020, we will first be reminded of how the world changed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the fear it instilled, the inconveniences it caused, and of course, the social memes created across the world. 2020 will also be marked as a time that social and racial injustice was highlighted through observed health inequities and police misconduct. The tobacco industry has a long history of being an active participant in systematic racism and causing health inequities across all marginalized communities. In recent years, we’ve seen the tobacco industry use flavored e-cigarettes to hook teens into a lifelong nicotine addiction, but they’ve been guilty of directly targeting Black Americans of all ages with menthol products since the 1960s. Menthol is not only easier to start, it’s harder to quit.

Learning Objectives:
• Review the history of the tobacco industry’s target-marketing of menthol marginalized communities and flavors to teens
• Discuss the evolution of the youth e-cigarette epidemic and industry use of flavors and social media marketing to addict kids.
• Overview of recent legislative work on flavor bans (FDA, dynamics of the Congressional Black Caucus, State of California and Massachusetts’ recent comprehensive flavor bans that include menthol cigarettes, local flavor policy work and the preemption risks)
• Understand the importance of including adequate enforcement for age-of-sale laws and discuss how retail licensing laws can regulate tobacco sales, reduce inequities and improve public health.
• Reinforce the dangers of smoking/vaping and COVID – recent findings from Stanford
• Call to action
o How to speak to your students about the dangers and sordid history of racism and tobacco sales– talking points and flyers
o How does your state stack up in tobacco control policies and what can you do to help protect youth