Fight All Flavors: reflections from the team

The Fight All Flavors campaign was an incredible effort and significant victory against the tobacco industry’s harmful tactics targeting youth and communities of color. Massachusetts is now the first state in the U.S. to ban all flavors of combustible tobacco and vapes, including menthol, mint and wintergreen flavors.

HRiA and its many partners, particularly the youth advocates of The 84 movement, are so proud of this milestone. We asked some of the team members to reflect on their experiences as part of this successful movement.

“Working with the Fight All Flavors campaign was a really wonderful and unique experience. It was a natural extension of what I already do with The 84 Movement, and it’s a campaign that I truly believe in. With all of the negative press and media going around today, it was awesome to be a part of something 100% positive. It was also a great opportunity to interact with other youth from around the state! Watching Governor Baker sign the bill was one of those moments that you just stop and think ‘this is a once in a lifetime opportunity.'”

Rachel Cohan, member of The 84 Movement

“This campaign was important to me as a Black person and father of three Black children who live, attend school and navigate in communities targeted by Big Tobacco. There has been a sustained effort over many years to a profit from poisoning African-American communities. My family, loved ones, community and race have been deemed expendable in service of tobacco companies increasing their bottom line.”

Jason Boyd, Director of Community Organizing & Resident Resources, CSNDC
Fight all flavors at the Massachusetts State House

“It was truly remarkable to watch the power of the young people throughout this whole process, both locally and then statewide. Legislators and boards of health were really respectful of the youth and listened to their ideas and opinions. It was clear that this was something the youth wanted, so for me, it was inspiring to know that this was really driven by them.”

Carly Caminiti
Fight all flavors campaigning

“The Fight All Flavors campaign was an opportunity for me to be part of a powerful response to decades of targeted marketing by the tobacco industry to the African American community. My grandfather’s addiction to tobacco is a direct result of this targeted marketing, and the Fight All Flavors campaign was an opportunity for me to share his story and advocate for the health of people in my community.”

Lauren Ansong
Fight all flavors giving testimony

“Being a part of Fight All Flavors was a great experience. It was amazing being able to work with a passionate team all dedicated to ensuring the policy included menthol through the explicit calling out of race. The policy signing would not have been as successful without the joint efforts of everyone involved, though we still have a lot of work to do prior to the implementation date.”

Edgar Duran-Elmudesi
Fight all flavors giving testimony

“I’m a non-American born black woman. And my experience with marketing for cigarettes and nicotine across the world and then here in the US led me to believe that menthol was the default flavor of tobacco. This campaign opened my eyes to how the ubiquitous marketing tactics worked to normalize menthol in black populations. This opened up my eyes and mind to understanding the power of racist policies locally and globally.”

Tamika Francis
Fight all flavors

“Working on the Fight All Flavors campaign was one of the highlights of my professional career. I was inspired by the activism of the young people who spoke truth to power and energized by our collaborative and dedicated partners. Our singular focus on elevating the history of tobacco industry targeting of menthol tobacco products in communities of color increased public understanding of and discourse about tobacco prevention and control as a racial justice issue. Without that frame, menthol – the original flavored tobacco — may have been excluded from this legislation.”

Kathleen McCabe, HRiA team lead
Fight all flavors giving testimony

Read more about the Fight All Flavors campaign.