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Albany County Legislature continues to look at ban on flavored tobacco products

September 10, 2019 10:44 AM

ALBANY – Some Albany County Legislators are continuing to push forward with a local law that would band flavored tobacco products. After being tabled this summer, the legislation could now be brought to a vote again.

“A lot of students were doing it in academic settings especially in bathrooms and it was definitely like an issue,” said Colonie High School graduate Mariyam Moqbil.

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Before graduating, Moqbil and Sunnah Yasin did research on the vaping problems in schools. They along with many others stood outside with signs ahead of Monday night’s legislature meeting. According to the New York State Department of Health, 27 percent of high school students in the state are now using e-cigarettes.

“Without the flavors, it may not be as appealing,” said Colonie High School Executive Principal Christopher Robilotti. “It really gets the conversation going with peers, ‘try it it’s fun it can't be bad right it smells great,’ but they're getting hooked.”

Monday night the legislature did pass the measure to schedule a public hearing on the law for Sept. 24 after changes were made to the original legislation brought forward.

“We’re amending it to exempt premium cigars, pipe tobacco, and hookah bars,” said Legislator Paul Miller. “We were getting a lot of concerns from people that were older tobacco users that smoked pipes and they weren’t going to be able to get their flavored tobacco.”

Those against the bill have said flavored tobacco is what helps longtime smokers quit. They use flavors because they don’t want to be reminded of the taste or smell of a cigarette. The ban would also have a huge impact on vape shops. However, Miller said you can’t put a price on health.

“People are going to have a certain amount of money, if they aren't going to spend it on tobacco they're going to spend it on something else probably so sales tax revenue isn't going to go down,” said Miller.

This also comes as vape related illness have been making headlines nationally. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention announced the number of vaping-related illnesses jumped to at least 450 cases in 33 states and cautioned people against using e-cigarettes. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo also announced he will advance legislation to ban flavored e-cigarettes.

However, students said more needs to be done about the youth vaping crisis.

“I think putting in and installing an education system in middle schools even maybe even in elementary schools could be helpful along with the laws,” said Moqbil.

The local law could go before the full legislature for a vote in November.

Credits

Emily De Vito

Copyright 2019 WNYT-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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