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Manhattan Beach Wins World Health Organization Award for Tobacco Sales Ban

Jun 01, 2021 11:47AM ● By Jeanne Fratello
The city of Manhattan Beach is one of only two cities in the United State to earn a "World No Tobacco Day Award" from the World Health Organization (WHO).

Manhattan Beach and Beverly Hills together share an award for the Region of the Americas for their bans on the sale of tobacco products

Each year, WHO recognizes individuals or organizations in each of the six WHO Regions for their accomplishments in the area of tobacco control. The winners are honored for achieving key advances in tobacco control in their countries.

“Our community takes pride in the commitment to protect our own health and the health of our shared environment,” stated Mayor Suzanne Hadley in a statement. “We especially seek to eliminate the use of tobacco and vape products among our youth. We are honored as a city to be recognized with this prestigious award by the World Health Organization.”

World No Tobacco Day was created by WHO Member States in 1987 and is commemorated each year on May 31 to raise awareness of the harmful effects of tobacco use and second-hand smoke and to discourage use of tobacco in any form. Tobacco is said to kill more than 8 million people each year.

Tobacco Sales Banned in Manhattan Beach

In Manhattan Beach, the city has been working for several years to address the dangers to public health arising from the use of tobacco products. The City Council began adopting measures as early as 2004 to prohibit smoking on the beach, the Strand, the greenbelt, public places, places of employment, and multi-unit residences.

In support of addressing the public health crisis arising from the sharp increase in the use of vape products, in November 2019, City Council voted to prohibit the sale of vape products in Manhattan Beach.

In February 2020, the city voted to ban the sale of tobacco products, as of January 1, 2021. Hardship exemptions were granted to several businesses until June 30, 2021, at which time the products will be phased out completely.

The California Department of Public Health's California Tobacco Control Program has set a goal of eliminating tobacco addiction statewide by 2035.

Manhattan Beach Cited as Leader in Effort

"An action like this tobacco ban sets an excellent example for other towns and cities," said Dr. Casey Nagel, a UCLA Preventive Medicine faculty researcher, who runs a task force that supports efforts around Southern California to ban and limit tobacco use throughout the region.

"Most people, including current smokers of tobacco, know about the negative health related effects; however, easy access to tobacco products keeps people smoking," said Nagel. "It has been shown many times that even just reducing the advertising of tobacco products will cause people to smoke less, so a ban of all tobacco products definitely steers people away from starting to smoke and from smoking more."

Nagel acknowledged that people who want to smoke will seek out tobacco from other places; yet he said that most tobacco users know that smoking is harming their health, so if their access to products is reduced it is possible that they will reduce their smoking or stop completely.

He referenced a study by Tobacconomics showing that ending the sale of flavored tobacco products would reduce tobacco use initiation, lead current tobacco users to quit, improve health, and save lives. In California, if such a sales ban occurred, an estimated 46,000 smokers (5.6% of menthol smokers) would quit as a result of the policy, and an estimated 10,700 premature smoking-caused deaths could be avoided.

"Many well-designed research papers show that reduced advertising about tobacco and reduced access to tobacco products greatly reduces the amount that people are smoking," he added. "Policies that limit the power of tobacco companies to advertise or sell their products save lives and prevent vulnerable populations from being taken advantage of."

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