NY: Restrict Flavored Tobacco

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Restrict The Sale Of Flavored Tobacco Now!

Dear [Decision Maker],

I write to express support for A.277/S.758-A, which seeks to restrict the sale of flavored tobacco products such as cigars, chewing tobacco, snuff and rolling paper to adult only tobacco shops.

In 2009, Congress enacted the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act banning the use of flavors other than menthol in cigarettes. However, other tobacco products, including "little cigars" (cigarettes wrapped in paper containing tobacco), snuff and other smokeless tobacco products were not included in the prohibition. I believe that action should be taken to correct this oversight.

Tobacco flavorings are intended to mask from tobacco product users, particularly new users, the harsh, toxic properties of tobacco smoke and spit tobacco. In addition to mint, Skoal today is sold in peach, cherry, apple, and berry flavors. If anything, cigars, especially "little cigars," provide even more egregious examples of this marketing strategy. Swisher Sweets come in cherry, strawberry, peach and grape flavors. Captain Black little cigars are sold in "Peach Rum," "Sweet Cherry," and "Vanilla" varieties.

Despite the federal ban on flavored cigarettes, flavored cigars and smokeless tobacco products continue to attract new young, users. According to a survey from the NYS Department of Health about 154,000 New York high school youth used tobacco products such as cigars, smokeless tobacco, or hookah on one or more days in the past 30 days and currently about 9.7% of high school youth (89,000) smoked a cigar on one or more days in the past 30 days. Restricting the sale of flavored tobacco to adult only tobacco shops is a much-needed step to protect children and to reduce their risk of nicotine addiction and the subsequent lethal effects of tobacco. New York City has enacted a restriction, which was rupheld by the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York. New York State should do the same.

As your constituent I urge the New York State Legislature to enact this legislation this year. By restricting the sale of products, like flavored tobacco, that appeal to children, this bill is the next logical step in the state's quest to curb youth tobacco use and will work to prevent life-long use that leads to tobacco-related illnesses, increased medical costs and a number of tobacco related deaths.

Sincerely,
[Your Name]
[Your Address]
[City, State ZIP]