Sen. Hoylman + Advocates Rally for NY Menthol Ban in Front of Philip Morris HQ

Flavors Hooks Kids NYC pushes Speaker Johnson to protect communities of color and kids

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NEW YORK, NY (01/26/2020) (readMedia)-- Today, Senator Brad Hoylman joined members of the Flavors Hook Kids NYC coalition, including the NAACP, in front of Philip Morris, a major cigarette company, to demand New York protect communities of color and restrict the sale of menthol cigarettes. 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. Similar legislation in Albany is also pending.

"More than 7-out-of-10 African-American youth smoke 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."

WATCH the presser here.

Senator Brad Hoylman and Assemblywoman Rodneyse Bichotte have a similar bill that would restrict the sale of menthol cigarettes statewide. The bill has yet to be brought to the floor for a vote.

"Philip Morris made more than $29 billion last year selling deathly products that kill thousands of Americans each year. These merchants of death aren't just hooking generations of people on nicotine - they're killing them. Cynical advertising campaigns target marginalized communities, including people of color and LGBTQ people, with flavored tobacco products like menthol cigarettes. We must protect our kids from these toxic, carcinogenic products, which is why I'm proud to fight alongside my colleague Assembly Member Bichotte to ban flavored tobacco products in the State of New York," said Senator Brad Hoylman.

"Big Tobacco has been hooking my community for decades on nicotine. 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 before it's too late," said Assemblywoman Rodneyse Bichotte.

"I am proud that New York City is taking action in establishing legislation that restricts the sale of menthol cigarettes that have disproportionately affected our youth and communities of color. The City Council has already passed a ban on e-cigarettes and now we will work together to prohibit the sale of menthol cigarettes. I commend my colleagues, Fernando Cabrera and Mark Levine, as well as the advocates for their leadership on this important issue," said Councilwoman Vanessa Gibson.

"The New York State NAACP strongly supports legislation that would comprehensively prohibit the sale of all flavored tobacco products including e-cigarettes, menthol cigarettes, flavored cigar and pipe tobacco, hookah and smokeless tobacco," said Dr.Hazel N. Dukes, President of NAACP NYS Conference.

Menthol, which is an organic 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.

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 now supporting both Intro. 1345 and Intro. 1362 (law that bans the sale of e-cigarettes), 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 both pieces of legislation.

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.

"My adolescent patients who smoke, are often lured by the milder flavor of menthol cigarettes. It is no secret that tobacco companies have been using Menthol cigarettes to target youth smokers for decades. Not only are they creating a lifelong dependency, but nicotine is affecting their brain development and impacting their life expectancy. Banning menthol cigarettes will no doubt help prevent a future generation's lifelong addition to cigarettes," said Dr. Vanessa Salcedo, Pediatrician and Director of Health Promotion, Union Community Health Center.

"Big Tobacco has been targeting our communities with advertisements for decades," said Darold Burgess, NYCHA President of Ingresoll Houses. "It's time to stop playing politics and keep our kids safe."

"Founded in 2018 by three moms as a grassroots response to the youth vaping epidemic, PAVe (Parents Against Vaping e-cigarettes) is a national advocacy and educational organization committed to protecting our kids from the predatory behavior of Big Tobacco. We came to the table to fight for a ban on flavored e-cigarettes-stealth-by-design products that are addicting an entire generation on enormous amounts of nicotine and a toxic cocktail of dangerous chemicals. We remain in this arena alongside our remarkable coalition partners because we are equally committed to fighting for a ban on all flavored tobacco including menthol cigarettes-products that tobacco companies have relentlessly marketed to young people in communities of color for decades. Flavors don't discriminate: they hook kids in all communities. And as parents, we cannot leave any kids in any community behind," said Meredith Berkman, co-founder Parents Against Vaping E-cigarettes.

"Today is when we can make a difference for our community of color by standing up against big tobacco as they have been mentally manipulating our community of color for decades now. The propaganda that has been planted into these communities are still at large and flavored menthol products are an example of this! We need to stand together now more than ever against those that have been buying their power over the years and show them who has the true power in our neighborhoods,' said Franklyn A. Mena, Director of Universe City NYC.

"I lost my mother 7 years ago. It wasn't cancer that killed her, it was her addiction to menthol cigarettes that did. We need to treat menthol cigarettes as the drug it is and stand up against big tobacco. This was pumped into our communities for a reason, and we need to fight back," said Shanelle Gabriel, of Urban Word NYC.