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Albany County tables vote on flavored tobacco ban

July 08, 2019 11:28 PM

ALBANY – Dozens of people attended Monday night’s Albany County Legislature meeting to speak on a local law that would ban flavored tobacco products. However, the sponsors of the bill ended up tabling it.

The legislation will now go back to the health and law committees for further review of some amendments that have been made to the local law. The main reason behind the ban is to curb the record amount of youth using e-cigarettes. The bill says 81 percent of youth who have ever used a tobacco product report that the first tobacco product they used was flavored.

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“Unfortunately right now the tobacco industry is winning,” said Caitlin O’Brien, the Government Relations Director for the American Heart Association. “They’ve created a product that teens want, that is cool. You know cigarettes hadn't been cool for a while."

O’Brien said the tobacco industry is using flavors like Swedish fish and unicorn poop to entice teenagers.

"E-cigarette flavors specifically have been known show to really deteriorate blood vessels in your cells,” said O’Brien. “So increasing your risk of cardiovascular disease, heart disease, and stroke we know are very closely linked to tobacco.”

Those who are against the bill say 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 businesses, specifically vape shops.

"90 percent of the products that they sell are flavored e-liquid and they will immediately have to declare bankruptcy if this passes,” said Cheryl Richter of the New York State Vapor Association.

Many stores also saying this won’t curb the youth epidemic. They said almost all stores in Albany scan IDs and will not let anyone under the age of 21 in their stores. Some say the legislature should look at a different law.

"Why isn't there a law in Albany County that makes it illegal for minors to possess and use vaping products,” said Jim Calvin, the President of the New York Association of Convenience Stores.

While the bill was tabled, O’Brien said she will continue to fight to educate the public on the dangers of these products.

"These are the same arguments, false arguments, that we heard them use when we passed clean indoor air act, when we passed T21, when we passed the cigarettes tax these are all the same arguments. The sky did not fall then and it will not fall now,” said O’Brien.

However, legislator and minority leader Paul Burgdorf hopes to never see the bill pass.

"Until we do something to stem the demand for vaping this is just prohibition and corporal punishment on everybody over the age of 21,” said Burgdorf.

Some of the amendments according to the sponsors are they’re looking to exclude flavored cigars or tobacco used for pipes as well as flavored tobacco for hookah from the ban. There will need to be another public hearing held for the law with the amendments.

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WNYT staff

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

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