New legislation was introduced at the state level last week that could potentially lead to a future ban on menthol cigarettes in New York.
If passed, the new law would add ‘menthol’ to a list of flavored tobacco products currently prohibited across the state. It would also officially ban any other products that have a “distinguishable taste or aroma other than the taste or aroma of tobacco.”
The proposal comes amid a string of vaping related deaths that’s prompted several legislative actions by New York and other states to try and curb teenage tobacco use.
In 2009, the federal government prohibited the sale of all flavored cigarettes except for menthol for the same purpose.
“Flavored tobacco is the gateway drug to a lifetime of nicotine addiction,” said Sen. Brad Hoylman, D-Manhattan, the bill’s sponsor. “The ‘menthol loophole’ has allowed tobacco companies to continue marketing menthol and other flavored tobacco products to teenagers and other vulnerable communities.”
A study from the Center of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found nearly 70% of middle schoolers and high schoolers who use tobacco have used a flavored product, including cigars and e-cigarettes, or vapes.
Seven states and over 220 localities have already restricted the sale of flavored tobacco products in some form.
As for violating retailers, New York’s proposal establishes fines of up to $100 for each product sold and a penalty of $50,000 to manufacturers.
If enacted, the new restrictions would make New York the first state in the U.S. to outright ban menthol cigarettes.