New York City Council Votes to End… | Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids
sign up

New York City Council Votes to End the Sale of Flavored E-Cigarettes, Needs to Crack Down on Menthol Cigarettes Next

Statement of Matthew L. Myers, President, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids
November 26, 2019

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The New York City Council today delivered a big win for kids over the tobacco industry by voting 42-2 to prohibit the sale of all flavored e-cigarettes, including mint and menthol. This legislation is a critical step to help end the worsening youth e-cigarette epidemic and stop e-cigarettes from addicting a generation of kids.

The Council now needs to tackle the serious problem of menthol cigarettes – and should do so before the end of the year. A measure to crack down on menthol cigarettes has the support of 37 of the City Council’s 51 members, so there is no reason for further delay. It’s time to stop tobacco companies from targeting and addicting kids with flavored products once and for all.

Today’s action on flavored e-cigarettes is urgently needed. According to newly-released data from the 2019 National Youth Tobacco Survey (2019 NYTS), the youth e-cigarette epidemic has gotten even worse in the last year. E-cigarette use among high school students nationwide increased to 27.5% in 2019, compared to 11.7% in 2017 and 20.8% in 2018. Altogether more than 5 million middle and high school students now use e-cigarettes. And the evidence is clear that flavored e-cigarettes have fueled this epidemic – 97% of youth e-cigarette users report using a flavored product in the past month, and 70% cite flavors as the reason for their use.

Flavored products have long been a favorite tobacco industry strategy for targeting kids. In addition to e-cigarettes, more than half of youth smokers – including seven out of ten African-American youth smokers – smoke menthol cigarettes. The evidence shows that menthol cigarettes make it easier for kids to start smoking and harder for smokers to quit. The pending legislation would help end the tobacco industry’s long and harmful history of targeting kids and African Americans with menthol cigarettes.

New York’s action provides a major boost for the growing national movement to end the sale of flavored e-cigarettes and other flavored tobacco products. The Massachusetts Legislature last week passed a bill that would make that state the first in the nation to prohibit the sale of all flavored tobacco products, including flavored e-cigarettes, flavored cigars and menthol cigarettes. We thank those who have led and supported the New York City effort, notably Council Member Mark Levine, who sponsored the e-cigarette ordinance, Council Member Fernando Cabrera, who is leading the charge for the menthol bill, and Speaker Corey Johnson.