LOS ANGELES, Aug. 24, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — Proponents of Senate Bill 793 (SB 793) held a press conference today denouncing civil rights leaders who have spoken out against the racist law that would single out and criminalize Black smokers who use menthol cigarettes. Just this past weekend, the evidence of ‘unintended consequences’ was shown yet again as another American city explodes with protests over the killing of an unarmed Black man.

SB 793 inexplicably provides exemptions for wealthy cigar and pipe smokers and other ethnic communities who smoke tobacco-flavored hookah pipes — but not for Black smokers, nearly nine out of 10 of who prefer menthol.

“Tone deaf liberal white lawmakers are trying to push through a tobacco flavor ban that discriminates against Black people. It’s shameful,” said Reverend K.W. Tulloss, president of the Baptist Ministers Conference of Los Angeles and co-founder of Neighborhood FORWARD.

Hundreds of Black leaders have expressed deep concern over SB 793. In the course of the debate over this bill, many pressing and critical issues have been raised concerning both the public health and the criminal justice implications of a ban on cigarettes that are preferred by people of color.

Gwendolyn Carr, the mother of Eric Garner, who was killed by New York police officers for selling single cigarettes, lent her voice to oppose SB 793.”It gives police another excuse to harass and harm any Black man, woman or child they choose,” said Carr. “Our leaders should know better. A bad law has consequences for mothers like me.”

“Our collective primary interest is protecting the public, specifically communities of color, from abuse at the hands of both corporate influences and law enforcement,” said Tulloss. “It is unjust to expect communities of color to choose between greater public health protections and basic civil rights. We do not accept the premise that we must choose between the two, that these interests are mutually exclusive, or that this debate is zero-sum.”

Neighborhood FORWARD continues to push for a meeting with both Governor Newsom and Speaker Anthony Rendon to voice concerns over the profound impact SB 793 will have on the Black community’s small business owners, who have already been devastated by the COVID-19 global pandemic and lack of funding received from the Paycheck Protection Program under the CARES Act.

Rev. Tulloss will be joined by other opponents of SB 793 today at 4 p.m. PDT at the City of Refuge – South Parking Lot. All media is invited to attend.

CONTACT: Mariah Kerns, (email protected), 314-440-3605


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