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San Francisco Will Face Off With A Tobacco Company Over Cigarette Ban

The flavored tobacco ban includes menthol and e-cigarettes.

San Francisco Will Face Off With A Tobacco Company Over Cigarette Ban
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Menthol cigarettes might not be permitted in the U.S. much longer if a recent ban in San Francisco catches on.

The city's supervisors voted Tuesday to uphold a ban on flavored tobacco, despite a petition with almost 34,000 signatures to overturn it.

Menthols have a minty flavor. They're also controversial for their specific targeting of the African-American community.

Nearly 9 out of 10 African-American smokers over age 12 say they prefer menthol-flavored cigarettes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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Tobacco company R.J. Reynolds, which owns the Newport brand and claims it is the No. 1 seller of menthols in the U.S., is leading the opposition to the San Francisco ban. The company has spent over $680,000 to oppose it.

Many local business owners who sell tobacco products are also speaking out against the ban. According to the San Francisco controller's office, menthol sales account for about 35 percent of cigarette packs sold in the city.

If it stands, the San Francisco ban could act as a precedent for other cities.

A spokesperson for R.J. Reynolds said, "Bans and prohibitions just don't work." 

Those for the ban say flavored products heavily target young people and that menthols heavily target minorities.

The issue will be on the ballot in San Francisco in June 2018.