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L.A. Community, Faith and Civic Leaders hold Zoom Town Hall

“Make It Count: Join the Conversation—Will SB 793’s Ban on Menthol Cigarette Hurt or Help the Black Community”


Virtual Webinar ~ Thursday, July 23, 2020

6:30pm – 8:30 pm


Los Angeles, CA – In its efforts to curtail the rising nicotine addiction among youth, the state senate approved Senate Bill 793. It now moves to the state assembly, where if passed, SB793 will prohibit the sale of flavored tobacco products such as e-cigarettes, e-pipes, and other vaping devices. All flavored smokable and non-smokable tobacco products, including cigars, cigarillos, pipe tobacco, chewing tobacco, snuff, and tobacco edibles will also be banned.

The Town Hall is being hosted by, Dr./Rev. Michael Fisher, President, Pastors of Compton and Pastor of Greater Zion Church Family as part of the church’s town hall series on issues that impact the community. Confirmed guests include Rev. K.W. Tulloss, President of the powerful Baptist Ministers Conference  Pastor William Smart Jr,  President and CEO at Southern Christian Leadership Conference of Southern California (SCLC), Assemblyman Mike Gipson, Ed Sanders, President of, ES Advisors Group. This important virtual Townhall will be held on Thursday, July 23, 2020 at 6:30 to 8:30 PM (PDT).



The Town Hall will address the pros and cons of the bill passage, including:

  • Would SB 793 create a black market on menthol cigarettes sales?
  • How would enforcement of the law work? Might passage of the law lead to another Eric Garner incident?
  • Would it increase police interactions and to arrests, fines and or imprisonment?
  • What would be the benefits to the community if menthol cigarettes were banned?
  • If it cannot be sold, where would menthol smokers who purportedly would not be charged for possession of those cigarettes be expected to get them?
  • Are their programs associated with the bill that would help wean smokers off of menthol cigarettes?
  • How would passage of the bill not lead to the creation of an illicit or black marketplace for menthol cigarettes?
  • What is the fiscal impact to the state of SB 793
  • What programs would be affected by the estimated loss to the state of anywhere from $200 -$600 million in revenues

More than 80 percent of black smokers prefer menthol cigarettes and civil rights groups like the American Civil Liberties Union warned Congress in February that a federal ban on menthol cigarettes could “trigger criminal penalties, prioritizing criminalization over public health and harm reduction.”

The city of San Francisco, which banned menthol sales last June, has already seen its illicit market expand according to the Harm Reduction Coalition.

Advocates maintain that menthol cigarettes “pose a public health risk above that of non-menthol cigarettes” because they are associated with greater addiction and that passage of the bill would encourage existing smokers to quit and lower the rates of people starting to smoke.


1 Comment

  1. Shannon Kozlovich on July 23, 2020 at 2:38 pm

    Hello, I am Dr. Shannon Kozlovich. I am a scientist and a Program Manager for Equality California. I am submitting a comment for this article about this Town Hall being hosted tonight about restricting the sale of flavored tobacco products (including Menthol). Specifically, to address the disproportionate burden that is carried by marginalized communities due to their higher rate of menthol flavored tobacco product use.

    Some of the most well-known statistics surrounding tobacco use focus on the targeted marketing to marginalized communities and youth by Big Tobacco, especially when it comes to menthol use. Less well known are the effects of menthol coupled with tobacco on the human body. Over the past decade the scientific community has answered many questions about the impact of mentholated tobacco products. In 2011, a special committee of scientists submitted a report to the FDA. For this report they had reviewed all published and tobacco industry provided research on menthol and they concluded that “menthol poses a public health risk above that seen with non-menthol tobacco products.” Their conclusion was based on the overwhelming evidence that menthol products are an entry into life-long nicotine addiction and that continued use of menthol flavored tobacco products makes it harder to quit.

    In my own research I discovered that menthol keeps the cancer causing compounds from tobacco in the body longer. This happens because both menthol and the cancer causing compounds leave the body through the same path. This reaction is similar to a traffic bottleneck where you have the menthol lane and the cancer compound lane merging into a single exit, causing everything to back up and remain in the body longer. The longer these cancer causing compounds are in the body, the more chances they have to do the damage that leads to cancer.

    Big Tobacco has historically preyed upon communities of color and upon the LGBTQ+ community. It is imperative that the evidence against these companies as well as the evidence against menthol be considered when weighing whether or not to address a clear and present public health crisis that is costing lives; LGBTQ+ lives, Black lives, Latinx lives. Studies have shown that including menthol in flavor regulations increases quit rates, specifically among menthol smokers. In California, this translates to quit rates that will save lives; Black lives, Latinx lives, and LGBT lives.

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