A national anti-smoking group is blowing on the embers of Mayor Justin Bibb’s flavored tobacco ban.
City Council swept Bibb’s plan into the ashtray after hearing from convenience stores and other tobacco sellers earlier this year. In March, the chair of the health committee said he was open to a statewide ban, but not a citywide one.
Now the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids will reignite the issue – and keep the heat on council – with a run of ads on RTA buses. The ads accuse the tobacco industry of targeting kids and Black consumers.
“Black people didn’t choose menthol,” Cleveland NAACP President Kayla Griffin is quoted as saying in one ad. “Tobacco companies chose us as the targeted market for their poison.”
The ads also direct viewers to a companion website, clevelandendstargeting.org, which lists the coalition of local hospitals, nonprofits and advocacy groups backing the effort.
Kristin Jimison, a regional advocacy director for the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, told Signal Cleveland the ads are meant to get people talking.
“We’re really hoping – and the coalition, especially – that it sparks conversation around the legislation and also around smoking and Cleveland and tobacco products and their high usage,” she said.
The messages will run on six buses and four bus shelters, with 30 more ads posted on bus interiors. Jimison declined to say how much the campaign is paying for the ads.
Despite council’s reluctance, the mayor hasn’t given up on his flavored tobacco ban. Bibb met with the leaders of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids on a trip to Washington, D.C., at the end of August. He worked the phones lobbying council members earlier this month.