In July 2019, HRiA received funding from the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids to build grassroots understanding of the impact of flavored tobacco products on young people and the impact of menthol tobacco products on communities in Massachusetts, in particular on Black, Latinx and LGBTQ. This resulting campaign helped Massachusetts to become the first state in the United States to pass a law to ban the sale of all flavored tobacco and vape products.
Tobacco, Menthol, and Racial Justice
The issue of flavored tobacco is particularly important to HRiA because we have fought for decades against the tobacco industry. The industry has long targeted Black communities with predatory marketing of mentholated products. Deliberate marketing strategies continue today with heavy advertising and lower menthol cigarette prices in Boston’s communities of color as compared to surrounding (predominately white) cities and towns.[i] The vaping industry is following a similar playbook with over 15,000 flavor varieties.
Through our Fight All Flavors campaign, HRiA and its partners built support for proposed local and statewide policy changes to combat the recent increases in youth nicotine addiction. Together, we mobilized over 25 people to testify at a local hearing in Boston. HRiA also educated and mobilized partners across the Commonwealth to support An Act Modernizing Tobacco Control, a statewide ban on the sale of ALL flavored tobacco products, including mint, menthol and wintergreen. This bill was signed into law by Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker in November 2019. Young people and adult community members trained by HRiA spoke at press events, spoke to media outlets, called their legislators and the Governor and shared information with their networks.
[i] Kephart, L., Song, G., Henley, P., & Ursprung, W. W. S. (2019). The association between neighborhood racial composition and menthol cigarette pricing in Boston, MA. Health & Place, 58, 102144. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.healthplace.2019.102144
- Boston Globe full page ad with partners
- HRiA supports ban of flavored tobacco products and launches Fight All Flavors campaign (10/22/2019)
- A letter from president Steven Ridini (1/27/2020)
- HRiA applauds AG Healey for her leadership in exposing tobacco and nicotine industry predatory marketing tactics (2/18/20)