New York Gov. Kathy Hochul is planning to introduce legislation that will prohibit the sale of all flavored tobacco products. The bill would expand upon the state’s prior ban of flavored vaping products.
Additionally, Hochul will seek to raise the cigarette tax from $4.35 to $5.35 per pack, which state officials believe will reduce the number of young smokers by nine percent, according to New York’s January 2023 State of the State report.
“Commercial tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable death in New York and the U.S. In 2020, 22.5 percent of youths used an e-cigarette,” Hochul said in the report. “Every year, approximately 4,300 New Yorkers under 18 become daily smokers. Tragically, 280,000 of New York’s youth who are under 18 are projected to die prematurely from smoking, while an additional 28,200 adults in the state die each year from tobacco.”
The Governor’s Office also says the measures are expected to prevent 22,000 young adults from becoming smokers and prevent premature smoking-related deaths.
Anti-tobacco advocacy groups are hailing the announcement as a policy win.
“This is a critically important proposal to stop the tobacco industry’s predatory targeting of kids, Black Americans and other groups with flavored products, including menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars,” Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids said in a press release.
“Flavored products are one of the tobacco industry’s most pernicious tactics for targeting and addicting kids, and research shows that 81 percent of kids who have ever used a tobacco product started with a flavored product,” the group said. “Gov. Hochul’s plan will also help end the industry’s decades-long targeting of Black communities with menthol cigarettes, which has had a devastating toll on Black health and lives and is a major cause of health disparities. The evidence shows that menthol cigarettes are more addictive, easier for kids to start smoking and harder for smokers to quit.”
The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) says that Hochul’s plan will be a “huge stop” toward reducing smoking rates and lung cancer deaths.
“Governor Hochul’s decision to prioritize these policies is courageous and represents the aggressive action we need to curtail tobacco use,” said ACS CAN New York Government Relations Direction Michael Davoli. “We encourage state and local leaders across New York to join Governor Hochul in prioritizing tobacco prevention and cessation efforts, utilizing the additional revenue from the proposed tax increase to expand tobacco control funding. The health and safety of every New Yorker is well worth the fight.”