Poll: Phoenix voters would support ordinance to ban flavored tobacco

Sep 18, 2020, 4:25 AM
(Lawrence K. Ho/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)...
(Lawrence K. Ho/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
(Lawrence K. Ho/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

PHOENIX – A recent poll says some Arizona voters are concerned about youth in the community succumbing to flavored tobacco, and many would support an ordinance to ban the sale of such products.

A poll released by the Flavors Hook Kids Phoenix coalition shows 75% of likely Arizona voters are concerned about young adults smoking cigarettes and 76% are weary about the use of e-cigarettes by the same group.

The poll also found 62% of likely voters would prohibit the sale of flavored tobacco products, which are typically marketed with flavors like fruit, cotton candy or mint.

The coalition consists of advocates from the American Heart Association, American Lung Association, American Cancer Society, Tobacco-Free Kids and Phoenix City Councilman Michael Nowakowski.

Nowakowski plans to bring the topic to the Phoenix City Council Public Safety and Justice subcommittee in October for discussion.

The proposed ordinance would aim to end the sale of flavored tobacco, including flavored e-cigarettes, menthol cigarettes, flavored cigars and flavored smokeless tobacco.

“There’s nothing new being proposed here for the City of Phoenix, but it’s an appropriate response at a time when lung health has never been more important in the midst of a pandemic and at a time when after decades of reversal, we see increased uses of tobacco and vaping products by young people,” Joe Yuhas, a Tobacco-Free Kids representative, told KTAR News 92.3 FM.

Yuhas said products like this are explicitly marketed towards younger people.

“There is no question that these products are being marketed to young people,” Yuhas said. “When you add flavors such as cotton candy, Cap’n Crunch, and Fruit Loops—you’re clearly marketing these products to young people.”

Phoenix business owners like Neda Khoshaba say an ordinance like this would hurt their business.

“If a person is going to want to smoke, it doesn’t matter what flavor it is. I think it’s the smoking, in general, that attracts people,” Khoshaba told KTAR News 92.3 FM.

Khoshaba is a smoke shop manager in the Phoenix area. She said banning the sale of menthol or flavored tobacco products isn’t the answer.

“I think instead of trying to take away from our businesses, whether menthol or any other flavor, they need to educate their business owners.”

The citywide ban on the sale of flavored tobacco would be a first for Arizona. Cities like Mesa, Goodyear and Tempe have previously implemented bans on vaping in public spaces.

In 2019, Massachusetts became the first state in the country to restrict the sale of all flavored tobacco products, including menthol cigarettes, according to data compiled by Tobacco-Free Kids. This year, New Jersey, New York and Rhode Island implemented similar bans on flavored e-cigarettes.

Starting in 2021, California will join Massachusetts as the second state to ban flavored e-cigarettes and menthol cigarettes.

Yuhas said the biggest challenge for Phoenix would be to close any loopholes that allow.

“I think the challenge for us is going to be to make this as comprehensive and inclusive as possible so there’s no exemptions provided for certain products because all that’s going to do is drive young people who now find this one product not available, it will just drive them to another nicotine product.”

KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Griselda Zetino and Taylor Kinnerup contributed to this report.

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Poll: Phoenix voters would support ordinance to ban flavored tobacco