Assm. Bichotte + Advocates Release New Ad Demanding a Menthol Ban in NYC

Flavors Hook Kids NYC push Speaker Johnson to call a vote on intro 1345

NEW YORK, NY (02/04/2020) (readMedia)-- Today, the Flavor Hooks Kids NYC campaign released three 30-second ads featuring Assemblywoman Rodneyse Bichotte, along with two other New Yorkers, sharing their personal stories about losing a parent to diseases related to menthol cigarette addiction. At the end of the ad, they all call on the City Council to immediately ban menthol cigarettes.

WATCH the videos here.

A bill in the New York City Council (Intro 1345) to restrict the sale of menthol cigarettes has the support of more than two-thirds of Council Members, yet has not been called for a vote by Speaker Corey Johnson. Similar legislation that Assm. Bichotte sponsors in Albany is also pending.

"Big Tobacco has been hooking my community on nicotine for decades. I lost my father to cancer from his addiction to menthol. Enough is enough. It's time both the state and the city stand up to Big Tobacco and restrict the sale of menthol," said Assemblywoman Rodneyse Bichotte.

"Our mothers, our fathers, our brothers, our sisters, our siblings, and our friends are dying because of an addiction to menthol cigarettes. This is an epidemic," said André M. Richardson, Flavors Hook Kids NYC campaign manager. "It's time Council Speaker Johnson protects communities of color and restricts the sale of menthol cigarettes. Speaker Johnson: call a vote."

The video ads also feature Shanequa Charles and Shanelle Gabriel, both of whom lost their mothers to disease associated with menthol addiction.

Shanequa Charles is a mother, criminal justice rights activist, and the Executive Director of Miss Abbie's Kids, a youth development non-profit serving the Bronx.

"Deeply believing that the power of the people organizing to save lives by getting menthol cigarettes out of hands of our kids gives me hope. No 30-year-old daughter should lose their mother to fourth stage lung cancer due to horrid chemicals that should never have been introduced to our communities. This campaign is moving to completely disrupt Big Tobacco's continued war on us. That's why I organize. And that's why my daughter Miracle organizes with the Flavors Hooks Kids campaign. She should still have her Nanna," said Shanequa Charles said.

Shanelle Gabriel is a poet, singer, and health advocate. Hailing from Brooklyn, she has been featured on HBO's Def Poetry Jam, The Rachel Ray Show, HuffPost Live, and competed in the National and Individual World Poetry Competitions. She has also toured internationally.

"I lost my mom too early. Menthol cigarettes took her from me, and they need to stop being pumped into our community. Ads are littered all over our neighborhood for a reason, and we need public officials to take a stand against Big Tobacco," said Shanelle Gabriel.

Menthol, which is a flavoring compound made from mint, masks the harsh taste of tobacco flavor, making it easier to start smoking and harder to quit. Big Tobacco has aggressively marketed flavored tobacco products to underage users for decades to hook new generations of smokers-particularly in communities of color, where menthol cigarettes are marketed more aggressively and sold at lower prices, creating disproportionately negative health outcomes for African Americans.

In New York City, 84.8 percent of Black adults and 63.8 percent of Latino adults who smoke use menthol cigarettes, as compared to 22.6 percent of white adults. More than half of youth smokers and seven-out-of-ten young African Americans smoke menthols. Eight-out-of-ten African Americans prefer menthols overall.

Two months ago, the New York City Council passed legislation banning flavored e-cigarettes, but Intro 1345 was not brought for a vote.

In addition to the local and national organizations supporting Intro. 1345 include African-American city leaders such as former Mayor David Dinkins, NAACP New York Chapter President Hazel Dukes, NYC First Lady Chirlane McCray and Rep. Gregory Meeks also back the menthol bill. The de Blasio Administration supports the legislation as well.

Members of the Flavors Hook Kids NYC coalition include: Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, NY NAACP, Parents Against Vaping e-cigarettes (PAVe), African American Clergy and Elected Official organization (AACEO), American Cancer Society Action Network (ACS CAN), New York Communities for Change, American Cancer Society Action Network, the African American Tobacco Control Leadership Council NAATPN, American Heart Association, American Lung Association, Neighbors in Action, Last Call Church, United Concerned Citizens, NYPIRG, Bishop Courtenay of Emmanuel Church of God in Brooklyn, Arthur Ashe Institute Public Health, among others.