NEW YORK, NY (02/20/2020) (readMedia)-- Governor Cuomo announced today that he would not push legislation to restrict the sale of menthol cigarettes, which is the product most-used by Big Tobacco to hook kids and African Americans on nicotine. His refusal to back the State legislation leaves New York City on its own to protect its communities from menthol. The City Council overwhelmingly supports legislation restricting menthol-but Speaker Corey Johnson has so far blocked a vote on the bill.
In response, André M. Richardson, campaign director of Flavors Hook Kids NYC, issued the following statement:
"Today the Governor announced that his administration will not move to ban menthol this year, failing to protect the health of kids and African-American communities who are targeted for addiction by Big Tobacco. It is now up to Council Speaker Corey Johnson alone to lead and restrict the sale of menthol in New York City. No more games. Let's get it done."
Three months ago, the New York City Council passed legislation banning flavored e-cigarettes, but Intro 1345 -- which restricts the sale of menthol -- was not brought for a vote.
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 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.