On ‘No Menthol’ Sunday, Public Health and Social Justice Organizations Call to End Sale of All Flavored Tobacco
Starting Monday, May 18th, flavored electronic cigarettes will no longer be for sale in New York State, per legislation that was passed in early April as part of the 2020-2021 state budget.
More than 40 social justice, public health, patient and parent and educational advocates recognized the end of the sale of these products and are calling for additional action to further eliminate the sale of ALL flavored tobacco products including menthol cigarettes. Menthol cigarettes have long been marketed to communities of color, leading to skyrocketing rates of flavored tobacco use by Latinos and African Americans.
“We are happy to see flavored e-cigarettes off the shelves across New York,” said Dr. Hazel Dukes, President of the NAACP New York State Conference. “But we are not done yet. The tobacco industry continues to target our young people to keep their profit margins high, and the quit rate low. I’m proud of our church leaders who are taking a stand to reverse this trend. Eliminating the sale of all flavored tobacco—especially menthol-- will further our mission to keep these deadly products from addicting more New Yorkers.”
Today, on ‘No Menthol Sunday’ leaders of various religious organizations from across the state raised the issue of menthol tobacco use with their congregations, encouraging people who smoke and people who use tobacco to quit and calling for policy makers to put an end to Big Tobacco’s targeting of kids and communities of color with the use of flavors.
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 menthol, the use of these products has skyrocketed. In the 1950’s roughly 5% of African Americans who smoke smoked menthol cigarettes. Today that number is 85%.
“Flavors like menthol make deadly products more appealing and sweeten the poison no matter what form of tobacco it’s in,” said Andrew Hyland, PhD, Chair of the Department of Health Behavior at Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center. “Eliminating the availability of menthol cigarettes from New York shelves will simply save lives."
When lawmakers can safely return to Albany, passing legislation to ban the sale of all flavored tobacco must be a priority. S6809 (Hoylman) and A8808 (Bichotte) will eliminate the sale of all flavored tobacco products including menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars statewide. This legislation has become more critical than ever as African Americans are disproportionately affected by COVID-19 and there is mounting evidence that people who smoke can suffer more serious medical consequences once they have the disease.
The following organizations support the Flavors Hook Kids NY campaign and look forward to working quickly to enact this lifesaving legislation:
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, 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 Comprehensive Cancer Center, St. Peter's Health Partners, SEIU 1199, Trinity Health.