After much debate between both sides of the issue, stores in Westchester County will no longer be allowed to sell flavored tobacco products.
- Earlier Report - Opposing Groups Speak Out About Banning Sale of Flavored Tobacco In Westchester County
The Westchester County Board of Legislators voted to enact the ban on Monday, Nov. 28, according to the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.
Advocates for the ban said that it will protect young people as well as communities of color that are usually targeted by marketing for the flavored products.
"By taking flavored tobacco products off shelves, Westchester County will help to reverse decades of racially unjust practices by Big Tobacco. Through aggressive marketing campaigns across the nation, including targeted communities of color in the County, Big Tobacco has long preyed on Black communities as a key demographic for menthol-flavored cigarettes, which are uniquely addictive, hard to quit, and cheap," said Kevin O’Flaherty, Director of Advocacy for the campaign's Northeast Region.
Although the ban will end the sale of the products in the county, it will not criminalize people for using the products, according to O’Flaherty.
The ban will be enforced by the county's Department of Health, which will issue fines to businesses selling flavored tobacco products, O’Flaherty said.
O’Flaherty said the ban would also help combat e-cigarette addiction among young people.
"In New York, an alarming 22.3% of high school students use e-cigarettes, with most preferring to use tobacco flavored with fruit, candy, desserts, mint, or menthol. Without bold action like the legislation passed today to address this epidemic, it’s estimated that 280,000 kids who are now under the age of 18 and alive in New York will ultimately die prematurely from smoking," O’Flaherty said.
Those against the bill though had said that it would harm small businesses and send customers to stores outside of the county.
"Implementing a ban in one jurisdiction and not any others mean these products would remain widely available to consumers in nearby counties and states, undercutting the public health goals of the legislation," President of the New York Association of Convenience Stores Kent Sopris had said before a public hearing on the ban on Monday, Nov. 14.
The ban will now be sent to County Executive George Latimer to be signed into law.
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