Tobacco Kills campaigns to end sale of flavored tobacco

ROCHESTER, N.Y. – Tobacco Kills New York, and its coalition of more than 50 groups say they support Governor Kathy Hochul’s proposal to ban the sale of all flavored tobacco products, especially menthol cigarettes.

News10NBC talked to one local doctor who says these products are primarily marketed toward certain communities.

Experts say flavored tobacco products are not only targeted to young children, but also to black and brown communities to keep them as lifelong customers.

“The health effects in New York are huge. I mean there’s 28,000 New Yorkers a year who die from tobacco related deaths,” said Dr. Steven Cook.

He is not only a pediatrician, he’s also part of the American Heart Association Advocacy Committee. Cook says the use of menthol cigarettes, and other flavored tobacco in communities of color is higher than others.

“It’s estimated that approximately 80 to 85 percent of adult black smokers smoke menthol. It’s estimated anywhere from a 1/3 to 50 percent of Latin youth who smoke, will smoke a menthol cigarette,” said Cook.

During the month of March, a major ad campaign will appear statewide on TV, radio, web, and social media platforms highlighting how menthol cigarettes are harder to quit, and are more addictive than regular tobacco.

“Ninety percent of adult smokers started in childhood. So, whether you got addicted to flavor cigarettes, regular cigarettes, through trying vaping, and then going to cigarettes, or menthol cigarettes, it’s the addiction nicotine brings,” said Cook.

He says although African American men usually have the worst related outcome when it comes to lung cancer in terms of late diagnosis and treatments, the health of most people using these products are at risk.

“It affects them just the same as cigarettes. It’s the carbon monoxide, the nicotine, it’s the volatile chemicals that are in there. It’s the burnt particles that you are breathing into your lungs. The flavoring is the only thing that’s different than regular cigarettes, and it essentially masks that flavoring, but the damage it will do is just the same,” said Cook.

A recent Siena College poll shows that 57 percent of New Yorkers were in favor of the proposed ban on menthol flavored tobacco products. Cook says this is closing the loopholes.

“There’s existing laws on the books that this really fits. There was a discussion early on that you know certain FDA pre-approved products would be exempt from this. Well, there’s actually not been any products approved, so it wouldn’t be like we were, you know, allowing certain products through, and we can actually close that loophole now,” said Cook.

The Tobacco Kills New York ads will be paid for by the Tobacco-Free Kids Action Fund in support of the campaign, and its goals. Click here to learn more about the campaign.