Today, the American Heart Association was one of more than 40 organizations from across the state who came together with lawmakers to call for a full and immediate end to the sale of flavored tobacco products of any kind in New York. The advocates representing social justice organizations, public health advocates, healthcare providers, and parent and educational organizations are calling for swift passage of a pair of bills (Electronic Cigarettes: S428-A, Hoylman/ A47-A, Rosenthal Flavored tobacco: S6809, Hoylman/ A8808, Bichotte) that once passed and signed into law will eliminate the sale of both combustible and electronic flavored tobacco products statewide. With the recent ruling from the state Supreme Court overruling Governor Cuomo’s restrictions on the sale of flavored e-cigarettes, today’s call for action became even more urgent.
While recent attention has focused on the skyrocketing epidemic in the use of e-cigarettes and vaping products, more action is needed to truly impact the hold that flavored tobacco has on millions of New Yorkers, and to keep these products from addicting a new generation of smokers.
“By offering fruity and candy flavored e-cigarettes, companies target kids with the intent of developing the next generation of nicotine and tobacco users. As legislators, we have the ability to stop this rapidly growing substance issue dead in its tracks. We will cancel nicotine culture through bold legislation and muster the political will to make it happen,” said Assemblymember Linda B. Rosenthal (D/WF – Manhattan), sponsor of legislation to ban the sale of flavored e-cigarettes and legislative champion on e-cigarette issues since 2010.
“Donald Trump caved to Big Tobacco by breaking his promise to ban flavored vaping products, despite the CDC reporting more than 2,500 injuries and 54 deaths across the U.S. linked to vaping, including more than 100 injuries and two deaths in New York alone. Big Tobacco has intentionally targeted children as young as 8 years old, minority communities and LGBTQ people with flavored e-cigarettes and other tobacco products, hooking them for life while reaping massive profits for themselves. Now is New York’s moment to snuff out these dangerous flavored products for good,” said Senator Brad Hoylman (D-27th District).
“For too long, our communities have suffered the devastating effects of tobacco use and addiction as a result of the tobacco industry’s predatory marketing to people of color. It’s time we put a stop to shameless targeting of children and communities of color and end the sale of all flavored tobacco including menthol cigarettes, “ said Assemblymember Rodneyse Bichotte (D-42nd Assembly District).
“For years flavors like menthol have been the secret weapon of the tobacco industry, hooking kids by masking the harsh taste of tobacco and making that first puff more appealing,” said Assembly Member Tremaine Wright, (D-Assembly District 56), Chair of the NYS Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic and Asian Legislative Caucus. “It’s time that this practice of targeting vulnerable populations with flavors is put to a stop. New York needs to lead the way in standing up to the tobacco industry and end the sale of all flavored tobacco products.”
The use of flavored products to hook young and minority populations has been happening for decades and has been extremely successful. Since Big Tobacco launched flavors like mint and menthol, the use of these products has skyrocketed. In the 1950’s roughly five percent of African Americans smoked menthol cigarettes. Today that number is 85 percent.
“Our kids are in crisis and continue to be profit targets of the tobacco industry,” said Dr. Hazel Dukes, President of the NAACP New York State Conference. “The devices may have evolved but the deception has not. The industry wants to keep putting these flavored products in front of young people to continue their profit cycle. We must immediately stop this immoral and discriminatory practice of targeting minority kids by ending the sale of all flavored tobacco products in New York—including menthol.”
“The Medical Society of the State of New York strongly supports enactment of laws to prohibit the sale of all flavored tobacco products, including e-cigarettes and menthol cigarettes, as well as flavored cigars, pipe tobacco, hookah, smokeless tobacco. Having a comprehensive policy will help to ensure that our young people are not initiated into the addictive world of nicotine and tobacco. E-cigarettes and other tobacco products that contain flavoring, including menthol, entice young people to try using these products. We are grateful for the leadership of Senator Brad Hoylman, Assemblymembers Linda Rosenthal, Rodneyse Bichotte and Tremaine Wright for sponsoring these measures to protect our children,” said Arthur Fougner, MD, president of the Medical Society of the State of New York.
“We need to pass these two pieces of legislation to tell Big Tobacco that enough is enough,” said Rebecca Carman, Director of Policy and Community Development, Shenendehowa Central School District, and spokeswoman for the American Heart Association. “Kids see the packaging on e-cigs targeted at them, and hear that the products are ‘juice,’ and they hear names like ‘Cotton Candy’ and ‘Magnificent Menthol’ and they think these are safe. But these products are addicting kids. If we remove only e-cigarettes, kids will turn to flavored combustible tobacco. We can’t stand idly by and let this generation fall prey to the ravages of tobacco that we have fought so long and hard against. S428-A/A47-A and S6809/A8808 are an investment in our children’s future, and we call on the Legislature and the Governor to pass them.”
“The health and wellness of our children is one of the most important things we can work on,” offered NYS PTA President Lorey A. Zaman. “We know that today, in our schools statewide, more than 25% of our children are vaping. They are vaping harmful flavored tobacco, flavors like bubblegum, and cherry, coconut, and mint. This ban of flavored tobacco will absolutely save children’s lives. This is the right thing to do to protect children and the right thing to do for New York State. We applaud the sponsors of this legislation, and Governor Cuomo, for their work on this critical issue affecting our children and students.”
“Flavored tobacco is deadly and its rampant use in my community is no accident. It is the direct result of a targeted and well-funded effort by tobacco companies over the last several decades to addict communities of color, like mine, to nicotine and tobacco. On behalf of my friends, family members and community who have been harmed by these manipulative acts, I am calling on New York State to ban the sale of all flavored tobacco products, including menthol cigarettes.,” said Hassani Hamilton, High School Senior and member of the Albany NAACP Youth Council.
Over half (54%) of youth smokers report using menthol products and that number is even higher among African American youth at nearly 70 percent.
“Though we originally came to the table fighting for a ban on all flavored e-cigarettes including mint, menthol, and wintergreen flavors, we stand here proudly with our remarkable coalition partners supporting a ban on all flavored tobacco products including menthol cigarettes. Flavors don’t discriminate-they hook kids in all communities. And we won’t leave any community behind,” said Mimi Boublik, Director of Education, PAVe (Parents Against Vaping e-cigarettes).
“Friday’s State Supreme Court ruling creates even greater urgency for the legislature to act now to eliminate the sales of all flavored tobacco products. We can’t let another year go by where we allow the tobacco industry to keep any flavored products on the market,” said Kevin O’Flaherty, Director of Advocacy, Northeast Region Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. “With the dedication of the lawmakers who were with us today, the will of the General Assembly and the support of the Governor’s office, we can finally protect our kids from these addictive products and their predatory marketing.”
American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) Senior New York Government Relations Director Julie Hart said: “Stopping the sale of all flavored tobacco is a no-brainer. Big Tobacco lures kids with flavored tobacco products. We know Big Tobacco has shamelessly targeted Black Americans for decades with menthol products, so inclusion of menthol is crucial. We are excited to see so many legislative champions fighting to correct this social injustice and urge lawmakers to pass legislation to restrict all flavored tobacco products, including cigars and menthol cigarettes, to protect all New Yorkers.”
Elizabeth Hamlin, Director of Advocacy for the American Lung Association in New York said,
“Comprehensive tobacco reform in New York State stands to save the lives of countless New Yorkers, including today’s students, and generations of children after them, who will be less likely to start a lifelong addiction to tobacco products. By removing all flavored tobacco products from the market – including menthol cigarettes – New York State stands to help lead the nation into a new chapter of modernized and meaningful tobacco control that can set the tone for stronger, more effective public health policies and outcomes.”
“Preventing tobacco and e-cigarette product use among youth is critical to ending the tobacco epidemic in the United States. Once addicted, it is very difficult to quit. Preliminary data from the 2019 National Youth Tobacco Survey shows more than ¼ of high school students used e-cigarettes in a given month and the majority of those underage vapers cited the use of fruit or mint flavors. It’s time for New York to protect the lives and lungs of our younger generation by restricting the sale of all flavored products – including menthol. New York State has over 7,000 active practicing Osteopathic Physicians (DOs), representing the fourth largest Osteopathic Physician population in the country. Many Osteopathic Physicians in New York State practice primary care and of those, many also practice in rural and urban medically underserved regions,” said Stephanie LaBarbera, MHA, Executive Director, New York State Osteopathic Medical Society (NYSOMS).
“The American Nurses Association – New York (ANA-NY) is proud to be part of the effort to restrict the sale of all flavored tobacco in New York State,” says Jeanine Santelli, PhD, RN, AGPCNP-BC, FAAN, and Executive Director of ANA-NY. “As the largest group of health care professionals, nurses have tremendous potential to effectively impact smoking cessation through supporting initiatives like this that will prevent tobacco use in the first instance. While nurses will continue to play a role in assisting with smoking cessation and promoting strategies to decrease exposure to second hand smoke, the best strategy to decrease the need for our role in cessation is to support initiatives that will prevent people from ever starting.”
New York State Association of County Health Officials Executive Director Sarah Ravenhall said: “New York State’s 58 Local Health Departments are grateful for these important proposals. Tobacco and vaping products represent clear threats to public health. We look forward to working with leaders to see these proposals become law and to enact any other measures necessary to protect New Yorkers from the known and unknown dangers of tobacco and vaping.”
“Most tobacco users start using in their teens. Flavored tobacco products are the main route by which youth are introduced to tobacco products. Banning the sale of all flavored tobacco products, including menthol, is necessary to prevent another generation of nicotine-addiction and the adverse health effects that accompany it,” said Gus Birkhead, MD, MPH Board Secretary and Chair of the Policy and Advocacy Committee, New York State Public Health Association.
“The New York Chapter of the American College of Physicians Services, Inc., representing over 12,000 physician specialists in general and sub-specialty Internal Medicine, continues to advocate for tobacco prevention and cessation inclusive of all electronic delivery platforms. To this end, the Chapter strongly supports a comprehensive ban on all flavored tobacco and flavored nicotine vaping products, including menthol flavors, as well as legislation banning all vaping-related ads, harmful unregulated vaping carrier oils, and the sale of e-liquids and e-cigarettes to underage youth through online, phone and mail order purchasing formats.”
“The New York Chapter of the American College of Surgeons firmly believes that the best prevention from smoking related diseases and death is to avoid exposure in the first place. The use of products containing nicotine in any form is unsafe. The New York ACS supports efforts to ban flavored tobacco to help prevent youth addiction,” said Marina Kurian, MD FACS, New York Chapter ACS President.
“We need to ban flavored tobacco products now before we create a new generation of addicts hooked on this expensive and deadly habit,” said Rose Duhan, President and CEO of the Community Health Care Association of New York State (CHCANYS). “In addition to serious known health risks associated with tobacco and nicotine use, state and federal health officials are investigating specific vaping-related illnesses that have led to hospitalization and even death. Banning flavored tobacco is an important and necessary first step in stopping this public health threat.”
“Tobacco use results in the death of nearly 30,000 New Yorkers each year and represents the single leading cause of preventable death in this country. Big tobacco uses flavors in tobacco products like menthol cigarettes, blueberry cigars and candy and fruity flavored electronic cigarettes to hook young people as their next generation of tobacco users. This cannot be allowed to continue,” said Dr. Barbara Keber, MD, President of the NYS Academy of Family Physicians. “New York must use all tools at its disposal to prevent young people from picking up a tobacco product and help others beat this deadly and pervasive addiction. For this reason, NYSAFP strongly supports legislation to end the sale of all flavored tobacco in our state.”
Massachusetts has already passed legislation to enact such restrictions. Late last year, Governor Charlie Baker signed a bill that immediately prohibited the sale of flavored e-cigarettes and the restrictions will be expanded to all flavored tobacco products by next summer.
S428-A/ Hoylman will come before the Senate Health Committee tomorrow, 12n Room 123CAP.
The following organizations support the Flavors Hook Kids NY campaign and look forward to working quickly with both the Executive Branch and legislative leaders to enact these comprehensive policies to protect the health of all New Yorkers:
African American Tobacco Control Leadership Council, Albany College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, Allergy & Asthma Network, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, American Heart Association, American Lung Association, American Medical Association, American Nurses Association – New York, ASH – Action on Smoking & Health, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, Children’s Agenda, Children’s Defense Fund, Community Health Care Association of New York State, HANYS, Healthy Capital District Initiative, March of Dimes, Medical Society of the State of New York, Mental Health Association of New York State, NAACP New York State Conference, NAACP Albany Chapter, NAACP Albany Youth Council, New York Chapter American College of Physicians, New York Chapter American College of Surgeons, Inc., New York School-Based Health Alliance, NYS Academy of Family Physicians, NYS American Academy of Pediatrics, Chapters 1, 2, & 3, NYS Association of County Health Officials, NYS Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation, & Dance, NYS Association for Rural Health, NYS Council of School Superintendents, NYS Osteopathic Medical Society, NYPIRG, NYS PTA, New York State Public Health Association, NYS Society of Anesthesiologists, Parents Against Vaping e-cigarettes, Pharmacists Society of the State of New York, Roswell Park Cancer Institute, St. Peter’s Health Partners, SEIU 1199, Trinity Health.