By Arriana Patraw, Project Coordinator
New York Gov Kathy Hochul has included a proposed ban on all flavored tobacco in the state’s 2023-24 executive budget — a move that would have an immediate positive impact on public health, especially for youth and people of color.
The proposed ban would include menthol cigarettes, flavored cigars and cigarillos, and flavored smokeless tobacco products. New York has already banned flavored vaping products.
Research shows that flavored tobacco products have the most appeal among young people. Even as the smoking rate among teens has dropped to its lowest point ever, the use of tobacco products remains as high as it was two decades ago. The 2021 National Youth Tobacco Survey revealed that 80 percent of tobacco-using middle and high schoolers did so with flavored products. And it’s not just the physical health risks presented by nicotine that are alarming — nicotine also harms developing adolescent brains, negatively impacts mental health and can lead to impulse control.
Menthol cigarettes, meanwhile, have traditionally been marketed to Black and economically disadvantaged communities, worsening existing health inequities. Support for a menthol ban is particularly strong among African-Americans and Hispanic/Latinos, according to a recent Truth Initiative survey.
The Heart Network is proud of the strides New York has made to decrease tobacco use statewide, including raising the age to purchase products to 21, ending the sale of tobacco products in pharmacies and restricting the sale of flavored vape products. But there’s more work to be done, as smoking continues to be the leading cause of preventable death nationwide — and it’s not just individual smokers who bear the consequences: smoking creates a strain on our healthcare system and is damaging to all who are exposed to it.
Remarking on the proposed flavored tobacco ban, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids President Matthew L. Meyers noted that Gov. Hochul’s proposal will “protect kids from tobacco addiction, advance health equity and save lives.” It truly is that simple.
If you’re a tobacco user and need help quitting, the state provides resources through the New York State Smokers’ Quitline — learn more at nysmokefree.com. The Heart Network and North Country Nicotine Consultants can also help. Get in touch anytime by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or give us a call at (518) 891-5855.