Letters to the Editor (2022)

After I left the County, I continued to volunteer on tobacco control, including submitting two letters to the editor to The San Diego Union Tribune. The second was only published in the print version. There’s a 150-word limit, which is quite constraining.

February 15, 2022

Re “San Diego’s proposed ban on flavored tobacco unpopular with neighborhood market owners” (Feb. 9): I would like to thank the city of San Diego City Council, especially Marni von Wilpert, for their leadership on moving forward to end the sale of flavored tobacco products.

Pulling such products from stores reduces addiction to a uniquely lethal product in at least two ways. First, kids will no longer see them in the stores that they visit with family as they grow up and no longer see them as a normal part of everyday life. Second, the significant number of people struggling with addiction will not have to battle against cravings yet again whenever they walk down the street or need to buy gas.

According to the Food and Drug Administration, over half of people who smoke have attempted to quit in the last year.

I hope this matter quickly comes before full council.

October 21, 2022, responding to the editorial board position “No on Proposition 31

It’s disappointing that the UT editorial board is recycling a tobacco industry talking point to encourage
opposition to Proposition 31. An underlying assumption is that tobacco companies should be allowed an
open season on people the moment they turn twenty-one. The tobacco industry is an extortion racket:
people are paying substantial sums for the privilege of staving off withdrawal from the products that the
industry got them addicted to when they were young.

Adults don’t want to be addicted to tobacco. Surveys have consistently shown that over half of cigarette
smokers have gone at least a day in the past year without smoking in an attempt to quit. And for good
reason: tobacco products are a uniquely lethal product, killing approximately 480,000 Americans per
year in 2005-2009 by Surgeon General estimates. And if that number has gone down, it’s exactly
because of laws like Proposition 31, which are urgently needed.