The American Heart Association supports Gov. Kathy Hochul’s plans to achieve a tobacco-free next generation of New Yorkers by proposing to end the sale of all flavored tobacco products and increase the cigarette tax. We applaud Gov. Hochul for taking a stand against the tobacco industry and advancing health equity in our communities.
The governor’s proposal to end the sale of all flavored tobacco products is a monumental step in addressing health equity and social justice and reducing youth usage. We support New York state ending the sale of menthol cigarettes and the remaining flavored tobacco products on the market.
Menthol makes it easier for people who have never used tobacco products – especially kids – to experiment with the product and ultimately become addicted. Due to Big Tobacco pushing menthol products on youth, Black Americans and women, these groups use menthols at much higher rates than other U.S. populations. In fact, half of all kids between 12 and 17 who smoke, and 85% of Black Americans who smoke, use a menthol product. Ending the sale of all flavored tobacco products is in the best interest of the health of New Yorkers.
Another way to prevent the tobacco industry from luring new customers and keeping their current clients addicted is through a cigarette tax. Research shows us that increasing the price of cigarettes by just 10% can reduce overall use by as much as 5%. Simply put, making cigarettes more expensive leads to reduced use.
When fewer people use tobacco, fewer people are susceptible to diseases, including those that lead to heart disease and stroke – brought on by tobacco use. New York spends $10.4 billion on tobacco-related healthcare costs. Medicaid must pay one third of this, $3.3 billion.
Tobacco use is a leading cause of preventable death. New York must be a leader by taking these steps toward a tobacco-free generation and end the disease and death tobacco use causes. We strongly support the governor’s call to eliminate flavors and increase the tax on cigarettes. We continue to call on localities to move forward with local tobacco ordinances until the state government acts. We urge the New York City Council to approve Intro. 577, to end the sale of all flavored tobacco products, including menthol cigarettes, and set an example for the rest of the state. The City cannot wait for the statewide action because with every day that passes, more individuals become addicted to these deadly products.
The American Heart Association also calls on Gov. Hochul to consider two nutrition efforts: Healthy School Meals for All, and increased funding for Double Up Food Bucks program.
With the lapse of the federal waiver providing free breakfast and lunch for all school children, about 726,000 New York children lost access to healthy food in their school day. The science is clear: children do best academically and are less likely to develop chronic diseases such as high blood pressure and diabetes if they’re eating healthy foods. For many children and families in New York, school meals are a lifeline, providing them with nearly half their daily calories and a consistent source of good nutrition. We must ensure children receive the high quality, heart-healthy foods they need. As part of a statewide coalition, we are asking the governor to invest 0.01 % of the state’s overall budget, $200 million, to fund a healthier future for New York’s children.
Double Up Food Bucks lets Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) recipients double their buying power for fresh fruits and vegetables at participating outlets. We call on Gov. Hochul to double the state’s previous $2 million investment in this program, which serves as a vital safety net to increase nutrition security for individuals and families to purchase healthy food.
For information about the American Heart Association’s advocacy efforts, visit YoureTheCure.heart.org.