Albany County law looks to ban flavored tobacco products

April 23, 2019 11:25 PM

ALBANY – A large crowd came out to a public hearing Tuesday night to speak on a proposed ban of flavored tobacco products in Albany County.

The Surgeon General of the United States Public Health Service has called vaping among youth an epidemic. In a report released it was stated in 2018, one in five high school students and one in 20 middle school students was vaping nicotine. That problem in schools is the main reason behind the proposed ban on flavored tobacco products in the county.

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“They all have the same problem of vaping,” said Albany County Legislator Paul Miller. “It's been pervasive. They've been doing several suspensions a week because of the vaping problem in the high schools.”

Before the public hearing Tuesday night, a rally was held by those who strongly oppose the ban. Many at the rally said they no longer smoke cigarettes because of vaping.

“Flavors are important because they help you disassociate from the actual act of smoking,” said Vice President of the New York State Vapor Association Andrew Osborne. “So a lot of people feel that a tobacco flavor sort of keeps you familiar with that deadly product because it's so similar.”

However, those who support the ban said numbers don’t show that more people are quitting smoking due to vaping.

"In New York right now the smoking rate for adults is about 14.2 percent,” said Government Relations Director for the American Heart Association Caitlin O’Brien. “In the past three years, since 2016, it's only dropped by .4 percent so you know if the industry wants to claim these are having such impacts on adult smoking rates why haven't we seen the numbers go down.”

Another problem with the ban brought up at the rally, the impact on businesses that sell flavored tobacco products.

“We employ more than 10 people, this flavor ban is going to put them all out of work, it's going to put me out of business and it's going to cost these people their lives,” said Mike Kruger, Owner of GottaVape.

While those at the rally said you can’t completely eliminate youth usage, some said this ban would be a step in the right direction.

“Kids see these flavors, which is marketed toward them,” said O’Brien. “Unicorn poop is an actual flavor that's marketed toward kids. So they think it's cool. Their older friends are doing it, they see adults doing it.”

The law still has to pass through two committees. If it does, it could go for a vote before the full legislature in June.


WNYT Staff

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