ATLANTA – On September 12, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed an executive order to include e-cigarette prevention within all tobacco prevention and cessation programming and materials in the state. The order also expands current school-based programs and marketing campaigns to include e-cigarettes and liquid nicotine. This is bold and decisive action given the unknown dangers associated with vaping as well as the six deaths and numerous illnesses attributed to e-cigarette use nationwide.
Flavored e-cigarettes and combustible tobacco products—especially menthol-flavored products—are a primary reason that youth begin tobacco usage. The menthol and other flavors are known to attract youth and the nicotine creates a physical addiction to the products. NAATPN, Inc., an organization that promotes comprehensive policies that benefit African Americans, applauds and stands ready to support the state of New York in its efforts to combat the flavored e-cigarette epidemic.
To be both comprehensive and successful, this effort must address menthol. New York has a unique opportunity to do something that the federal government failed to do with the passage of the Tobacco Control Act in 2009—address menthol in their legislation. A decade since the legislation (and with millions of new smokers addicted and thousands of lives lost), the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) is attempting to correct its mistake by addressing menthol in both combustible tobacco products as well as in e-cigarettes and liquids. The lesson that New York can learn from this debacle is clear: menthol flavoring is more valuable to the addiction process than all the other flavors combined.
Localities across the country are instituting restrictions on the sale of mentholated combustible and e-cigarette tobacco products with great success. A comprehensive strategy in New York should include both education on menthol and other flavors as well as legislation to restrict the sale of such products.
NAATPN will stand with New York in this bold endeavor and will provide technical assistance and outreach to communities in New York to prevent this epidemic from impacting vulnerable populations and claiming additional lives.
For more information, contact Delmonte Jefferson firstname.lastname@example.org.