New Study Shows 57% Of Americans Support Policies To Ban All Tobacco Products

More than half of all Americans support a complete ban on all tobacco products, according to a new poll published by researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and nearly two-thirds say they support a ban on menthol cigarette sales.

Published Thursday in the journal Preventing Chronic Disease, the poll included surveys from nearly 6,500 adults conducted in 2021; before the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) proposed a ban on menthol and flavored cigarette products. Overall, 57% of adults supported a policy that would see the sale of tobacco products banned, while 62% said they would support a policy prohibiting the sale of menthol cigarettes.

“A majority of adults supported tobacco retail policies aimed at preventing initiation, promoting quitting, and reducing tobacco-related disparities,” the study said. “These findings can help inform federal, state, and local efforts to prohibit the sale of tobacco products, including menthol cigarettes.”

The study noted that the level of support, as well as the type of policies supported, varied among participants depending on certain variables. For example, current smokers were less likely to support policies to ban tobacco products when compared with non-smokers, with only about 25% saying they supported such policies.

Support also varied by race and ethnicity, with 54.4% among non-Hispanic White adults, 60.5% among Hispanic adults, 63.4% among non-Hispanic Black adults, and 67.4% among non-Hispanic adults from other racial and ethnic population groups.

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Opposition To Bans Stem From Dangerous Marketing Tactics

One of the biggest challenges to banning tobacco sales in recent years has been tackling the issue of the tobacco industry’s predatory marketing.

For decades, commercial tobacco products, like cigarettes, cigars, chewing tobacco, and vaping devices in recent years, have disproportionately been marketed toward some of our most vulnerable communities, especially products that contain menthol or other flavorings. These communities include young adults, particularly those under the age of 18, racial and ethnic minorities, and those who identify as LGBTQ+, all of whom are more likely to use these products and develop tobacco-related health problems, according to the study.

“Our findings are generally consistent with previous research showing support for menthol cigarette sales prohibitions, including among population groups historically targeted by unjust marketing practices and with a high prevalence of menthol cigarette use (e.g., non-Hispanic Black adults),” they wrote in the study.

These marketing strategies represent a deliberate attempt by the tobacco industry to stake out a foothold in society. As previously noted, support among participants who were current smokers was a fraction of those who were not. By targeting young people, a disproportionate number of which are minorities, the tobacco industry’s marketing tactic is simple: get young people addicted as early as possible to garnish as much opposition to bans like the ones mentioned in the CDC study as possible.

Legislative Action Can Prevent Addiction And Death

Proposals for a total ban on tobacco products aren’t just theoretical exercises. In fact, there have been several state and federal legislative measures, both proposed and passed, in recent years that have set their sights on limiting tobacco sales.

In 2021, the FDA proposed a ban on menthol flavoring, the last allowable flavor in cigarettes, which is still being considered as of 2023.

“The proposed rules would help prevent children from becoming the next generation of smokers and help adult smokers quit,” Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra said in a statement when the proposal was announced. “Additionally, the proposed rules represent an important step to advance health equity by significantly reducing tobacco-related health disparities.”

According to the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, an American non-profit organization that advocates for reducing tobacco consumption, in 2019, Massachusetts became the first state to ban the sale of menthol-flavored tobacco products, followed by New Jersey, New York, and Rhode Island in 2020.

In 2022, California voters overwhelmingly supported a ban on all flavored tobacco products in all retail locations and vending machines.

Bans such as these can have a profound effect on public health outcomes. While the CDC has reported that cigarette smoking in the US has declined over the years, there are still an estimated 31 million adults who currently smoke. This is incredibly alarming, as cigarette smoking remains the number one cause of preventable deaths, disability, and disease, accounting for more than 480,000 deaths per year. That’s nearly 1 out of every 5 deaths in the country.

“The science is clear: Menthol cigarettes have an adverse impact on public health and have no public health benefits as compared to non-menthol cigarettes,” American Heart Association CEO Nancy Brown said in a statement last year. “They increase the likelihood and degree of addiction among youth smokers, elevating the number of premature deaths from tobacco use. Their removal from the market would have enormous benefits for public health in this country.”

Total Ban Is Likely Far-Off

While many states, as well as the FDA, have taken steps to mitigate the public health crisis that is smoking, the reality is that a complete and total nationwide ban is likely years, if not decades, from being passed into law.

This means that waiting for a ban to stop people from smoking is simply not an option. What is an option, however, is to provide the resources, support, and access to addiction treatment to all those in need.

While there are many inpatient and outpatient facilities across the country that can help with tobacco addiction, these levels of care may feel a bit daunting for those looking to quit smoking. However, if your smoking is accompanied by other substance abuse, such as alcohol or prescription medications, these can be an effective way to safely deal with both.

Instead, what many people find success with is online therapy. Online therapy allows for convenient, confidential therapy from the comfort of your own home. These services can be structured around your work, family, and social life so that you can continue to do the things you love while getting the help you need.

Online therapy, on average, costs the same, if not less, than traditional in-person therapy. Additionally, many insurance companies have expanded their coverage to these types of services. Quitting smoking can be difficult, but with the right help and resources, you can live a healthier, smoke-free life. If you’re looking to take the first step toward recovery, learn more about your online therapy options today.

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Zachary Pottle

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  • Zachary Pottle earned his B.A. in Professional Writing from Saint Leo University and has over three years of journalistic experience. His passion for writing has led him to a career in journalism, where he specializes in writing about stories in the pain management and healthcare industry. His main goal as a writer is to bring readers accurate, trustworthy content that serve as useful resources for bettering their lives or the lives of those around them.

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