New York Agreement to Raise the… | Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids
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New York Agreement to Raise the Cigarette Tax Is a Win for Kids and Health, but State Missed an Opportunity to Do More by Cracking Down on Flavored Tobacco

Statement of Matthew L. Myers, President, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids
May 01, 2023

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Gov. Kathy Hochul and New York legislative leaders have delivered an important victory for kids and health by agreeing on a state budget that includes a $1 increase in the state cigarette tax. The evidence is clear that raising the price of cigarettes is one of the most effective ways to reduce smoking, especially among kids. The $1 cigarette tax increase will prevent kids from smoking, encourage smokers to quit, save lives and save money by reducing tobacco-related health care costs, which total over $12 billion per year in New York.

However, it is deeply disappointing that this agreement does not prohibit the sale of menthol cigarettes and other flavored tobacco products as proposed by Gov. Hochul. It is shameful that the tobacco industry has once again put its own profits over kids and lives by waging an all-out war against this proposal. This is a tremendous missed opportunity to stand up to Big Tobacco and stop its predatory targeting of kids, Black Americans and other vulnerable communities with menthol cigarettes and other flavored products. This omission is also contrary to the views of New York voters, who polls show strongly support banning flavored tobacco products. We urge Gov. Hochul and the Legislature to revisit this issue and enact a ban on flavored tobacco sales at the earliest opportunity. In light of the Legislature’s failure to act, it is also more important than ever that the New York City Council approve pending legislation to end the sale of menthol cigarettes.

It is also disappointing that this agreement does not include Gov. Hochul’s proposals to fix several loopholes and enforcement issues from the 2020 law that prohibited the sale of flavored e-cigarettes. Of the states that have enacted similar laws, New York continues to have the highest availability of these prohibited products for sale at retail. New York must close these enforcement loopholes and protect kids from the flavored e-cigarettes that have fueled a youth addiction crisis.

We applaud Gov. Hochul for her leadership in proposing a comprehensive package of policies to drive down tobacco use in New York, and we welcome the agreement by legislative leaders on the cigarette tax increase. We also thank other New York lawmakers who have provided strong leadership in this effort, including Assemblymember Rodneyse Bichotte Hermelyn and Senator Brad Hoylman-Sigal, who sponsored the bill to end the sale of flavored tobacco products, and the Health Committee Chairs, Senator Gustavo Rivera and Assemblymember Amy Paulin. We are enormously grateful for the courageous advocacy of Hazel Dukes, president of the NAACP New York State Conference, Rev. Kirsten John Foy of The Arc of Justice, and the many other organizations and individuals who are part of the Tobacco Kills NY coalition.