Groups on both sides of the debate to ban the sale of flavored tobacco products in Westchester County held rallies before a public hearing on the proposed law.
- Earlier Report - Westchester Convenience Stores Urge Against Banning Sale of Flavored Tobacco Products
The two rallies were held on Monday, Nov. 14, by both the New York Association of Convenience Stores, who are against the ban, and anti-smoking advocates in Westchester County in support of the proposal.
Advocates for the ban said that the measure, which would not criminalize the possession of flavored tobacco but only fine businesses for selling it, would benefit children and communities of color in the county, who often suffer health disparities from tobacco use.
"With this bill, Westchester can pass the most comprehensive flavored tobacco ban in New York. We are showing our commitment to children and families by taking a firm stand in stopping the cycle of addiction that has been perpetrated by the tobacco industry for generations. Enough is enough," Chair of the Westchester County Board of Legislators Catherine Borgia said.
"For decades, the tobacco industry has targeted Black Americans with aggressive marketing around menthol flavored tobacco products – leading to disproportionately high rates of tobacco related diseases and health complications," President of the NAACP New York State Conference Hazel N. Dukes said.
Those against the ban though say that it would harm 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 said.
Officials from the group also said that if the ban were passed, Westchester County would lose $1.8 million per year in tax revenue, eliminating jobs at local businesses.
A public hearing on the proposed ban was held on Monday night, Nov. 14, and a vote on the measure is to be held on Nov. 28 by the county's Board of Legislators.
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