Earlier today, Americans for Tax Reform (ATR) wrote to members of the Council of the District of Columbia, urging them to oppose B24-002, “The Flavored Tobacco Product Prohibition Amendment of 2021” which would introduce a prohibition on flavored cigarettes as well as reduced risk tobacco alternatives. No public hearings have been held on B24-002.  

ATR Director of Consumer Issues Tim Andrews stated: “Policy must be driven by science and evidence, not by ideology. The evidence clearly demonstrates that if enacted, this bill would have a disastrous impact on public health, lead to an increase in smoking rates particularly among high schoolers, cause conflict between minorities and law enforcement with potentially tragic consequences, harm businesses, and reduce District Council Revenue by significantly more than the $3 million annually claimed.” 

Andrews continued: “Reduced risk tobacco alternatives such as e-cigarettes are proven 95% safer than deadly combustible cigarettes, between two and four times more effective than any other form of nicotine replacement therapy, are endorsed by over 50 of the world’s leading medical authorities, and according to Georgetown University Medical Centre have the capacity to save 6.6 million American lives. Studies have repeatedly shown that flavored e-cigarettes are critical to helping adult smokers make the switch to vaping but have no impact on youth initiation. It is beyond belief that DC Council is considering a science-denial bill that will lead to more people smoking and dying as a result.” 

Andrews also commented on how B24-002 extends flavor prohibition to conventional tobacco, including menthol cigarettes, something strongly opposed by groups such as the ACLU and civil rights leaders like Rev Al Sharpton. “Banning menthol cigarettes will also significantly increase the policing of minority communities and lead to a rise in negative interactions between law enforcement and minorities, as was seen earlier this week in Ocean City.”   

Andrews concluded, “DC has the experience of other states to learn from. The evidence is incontrovertible: When San Francisco imposed a flavor ban in 2018, the only impact was that youth smoking doubled. When Massachusetts banned menthols, the only result was sales moved interstate or to the black market, with no decrease in the smoking rate, but a loss to the state of $72 million in just the first 7 months. DC Councilors must put science above ideology and reject this truly dangerous bill.” 

The full letter can be read here.