PHILADELPHIA–In response to a lawsuit seeking to allow children and young adults unrestricted access to candy-flavored cigars and cigarillos, City officials, a youth advocate, and a pulmonologist came together to decry the tobacco industry’s attempts to addict a new generation of Philadelphians. The City is calling on the tobacco companies to drop this lawsuit.
In December 2019, City Council and Mayor Kenney took action to protect young Philadelphians from starting a lifelong addiction to tobacco by passing a bill restricting the sale of flavored cigars and cigarillos, a bill that was introduced and passed with bipartisan support. In response to the City’s limiting the sale of “fruit punch” and “mango” cigarillos, the tobacco industry has filed suit to stop this law.
Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley said, “Tobacco is the leading killer in Philadelphia, leading to more than 3,500 deaths per year. Last year, the Kenney Administration and City Council came together to protect our children from a lifelong addiction. The fact that the tobacco industry is determined to keep selling cheap, candy-flavored cigarillos right next to snacks is shameful.”
Flavored cigarillos were sold in corner store bodegas with tobacco sales permits. They are cheap, usually costing as little as four or five for a dollar. They are sold with flavors like Tropical Fruit, Grape, Mango, or Mint Chocolate Chip and are packaged in wrappers with colorful images of sweet snacks.
The City’s law, sponsored by Councilmember Curtis Jones, Jr., and passed with bipartisan support, restricted the sale of cigar products with flavoring. The only stores that would be allowed to sell those products are adult-only, meaning no children would be exposed to them. The tobacco industry is still allowed to sell cigars without flavoring at any store with a tobacco sales permit, and is still allowed to sell flavored cigars and cigarillos at adults-only stores.
While this effort is focused on stopping youth and young adults from starting to use tobacco, there are resources available for those who have already started using.
- State quitline:
- Call 1-800-QUITNOW or go to PA.Quitlogix.org to enroll. The Quitline has trained counselors who can customize a quit plan that works for you and free nicotine replacement products.
- Text to quit:
- National program SmokefreeTXT: text QUIT to 47848. This program will send 3-5 texts per day that can help get over barriers to quitting.
- Truth Initiative has a texting cessation support program designed for youth and young adults. Sign up by texting “DITCHJUUL” to 88709. Parents and other adults looking to help young people quit should text “QUIT” to (202) 899-7550
- Go to SmokefreePhilly.org for more information and resources.