As of February 1, 2020, many flavored e-liquid pods, including Juul and Juul-compatible products, can no longer be sold legally in the U.S., while the Federal Minimum Age to purchase tobacco products was raised from 18 to 21 at the end of 2019.
These policies have been creating since vaping, or inhaling from an e-cigarette or other vaping device, has been linked to a spike in mid-2019 to hundreds of mysterious lung illnesses, hospitalizations and several deaths across the U.S.
Launched in February 2019, KYCC’s Tobacco Task Force, under our Prevention Education unit, is dedicated to ensuring policy changes related to the use and accessibility of tobacco products by minors. With an ongoing mission to protect youth from the effects of tobacco, the Tobacco Task Force has accomplished many of its goals by teaming up with partners such as the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health Tobacco Control Prevention Program and Community Coalition (CoCo), along with other local health organizations and coalitions.
“Now, the national average is 5,700 children beginning to vape every day,” explains Lydia Lising, KYCC Prevention Coordinator. “Without sustained prevention efforts, we are looking at another entire generation of youth growing up addicted to nicotine. We hope with our public health campaign, the Tobacco Task Force can make a difference by advocating for safer policies in the community in order to protect youth from tobacco-related harms.”
In the year since its inception, the Tobacco Task Force has:
- Conducted two public opinion surveys (POS) for both Culver City and the City of Los Angeles (ongoing).
- Provided Public Comment at the Culver City City Council, which resulted in the adoption of a flavor ban in October 2019 and the closure of all hookah establishments (with one exemption) to go into effect May 2020.
- Hosted College Night for Spanish-speaking parents at the KYCC Wilton Center in November 2019 and presented on flavored tobacco and marijuana.
- Partnered with Vista Charter Middle School where we began to train a group of high school girls on advocacy and civic engagement in December 2019. They will create a photo project to present at the February/March 2020 City Council meeting.
- Conducted the Young Adult Purchase Survey (YAPS) in the City of Los Angeles Council District 10, which was presented to the L.A. City Council in December 2019. (Finding: 48 percent of retailers were willing to sell to our youth decoys.)
- Worked with the L.A. City Attorney’s office in December 2019 to draft a report and ordinance to include menthol and hookah establishments in the flavor ban across the city.
- Presented over 20 flavored tobacco educational presentations to schools, parent groups, committees and neighborhood councils (ongoing).
In addition, the Tobacco Task Force will be traveling to Sacramento with two high school students for Youth Quest—a single day event where young students will gather and rally at the Capitol, and speak with state senators about their thoughts and concerns on flavored tobacco.
In California, much progress has been made towards limiting the manufacturing and selling of e-cigarettes to minors and adults. In 2021, the City of Beverly Hills will be the first city in the U.S. to ban fully the sale of tobacco products (excepting a few cigar lounges and hotels).
Senator Jerry Hill (D13—San Mateo) introduced legislation to the California State Senate in January 2020 that would prevent stores across California from selling any flavored, commercial tobacco product to consumers.
KYCC Tobacco Task Force has rallied for these legislative measures to be put into place, but is working diligently to reduce fully the use of tobacco by youth in L.A.
The team is focused on building their coalition, collecting more petition signatures and increasing community participation to show support at city council meetings.
Our Prevention Education aims to reduce the use of tobacco and alcohol by youth between the ages of 12 and 17 in the Koreatown and Greater Los Angeles area. Funding for Tobacco Task Force comes from the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, Tobacco Control & Prevention Program (TPCC).
For more information about the Tobacco Task Force or if interested in getting involved with the team’s efforts, please contact Hilcia Guerra at firstname.lastname@example.org.