My name is Shayna and I am a youth leader at YLI. For almost two years now, I’ve been working alongside other youth leaders to gear up a campaign to spread awareness about tobacco minimum pricing and price promotions. Tobacco minimum pricing and price promotions are a mouthful, but I’m here to help break it down. Tobacco minimum pricing is a minimum price set on tobacco retails. Price promotions are discounting tactics used to target price-sensitive customers and cheapen the price of their products such as buy-one-get-one free, coupons, and discounts.
Before becoming a youth leader at YLI, I didn’t realize that tobacco was a social justice issue. In many ways, I blamed the people around me for their tobacco habits. Tobacco has always been pervasive and easily accessible in my life. It isn’t uncommon for people in my family to pick up smoking tobacco given that many of them come from places in Asia where it’s more culturally and socially acceptable. Although I’d always complain to my dad of the lingering cigarette smell at home, I eventually accepted it as the way it is. And it wasn’t long before I picked up the harmful habit myself.
According to the Center for Disease Control, “in 2016, cigarette and smokeless tobacco companies spent $9.5 billion on advertising and promotional expenses in the United States alone” and heavily target young, poor, low-income, LGBTQ2A+, and communities of color. It’s important to me that young people push this work forward because Tobacco companies are benefiting off of already marginalized communities through their unjust advertisements. This way of advertising is clearly evident in the recent surge of electronic cigarettes and I am worried that communities don’t see the new products as just as harmful.
Tobacco products are adapting to our social environments and we need to put a stop to this. We need you to support our campaign as we strive to set a city-wide tobacco retail minimum price and ban the use of coupons, BOGO deals, and any other promotional strategies to purchase tobacco in San Francisco — our city. This isn’t just a health issue, it’s also a social justice issue.
You can support us by endorsing our campaign. If you wish to support us further, youth leaders will be presenting to the Youth Commission on April 15th 5pm at San Francisco City Hall, room 416 – click here for more details. A tobacco minimum price law and price promotion resolution will be voted on. We hope to see you there!