COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – Starting Tuesday night, Columbus residents can begin sharing feedback on the future of tobacco sales in the city as Columbus City Council begins holding public hearings which could leave the final decision to either council or voters.
“I want to make it clear that we are at the early stages of this listening tour,” said Columbus Councilmember Shayla Favor.
Favor chairs council’s Housing, Health and Human Services Committee. Starting Oct. 25, council will host a community conversation regarding tobacco and its impact on Columbus neighborhoods.
“We will provide legislation that Columbus Public Health will propose to us,” Favor said. “We will make that available to the public and we are going to seek community feedback.”
Columbus Public Health said there are more than 800 registered tobacco retailers in the city.
Former longtime Columbus Mayor Michael Coleman said last month that in 2000, during his first term in office, an addiction to cigarettes left him deathly ill.
“If I knew I would become addicted, I wouldn’t have done it in the first place,” Coleman said.
Coleman is now throwing his support behind the Coalition to End Tobacco Targeting. More than 130 local organizations that back the effort held a news conference this past summer.
“The goal is to achieve legislation at City Council that ends the sale of flavored tobacco products including menthol-flavored cigarettes,” Coleman said.
A spokesperson for Reynolds, a leading tobacco manufacturer, said not so fast. Earlier this year, the company sent a statement reading:
“Scientific evidence shows that menthol cigarettes do not present any greater risk of smoking-related disease compared to non-menthol cigarettes. As a result, we do not believe the published science supports regulating menthol cigarettes differently from non-menthol cigarettes.”
Tuesday’s community conversation is scheduled to start at 4:30 p.m. at The Reeb Avenue Center, 280 Reeb Avenue.