Flavored tobacco products are once again banned in New York City. NYC first banned the products in 2009 when Mayor Michael Bloomberg signed the ban into law. A lawsuit was filed by U.S. Smokeless Tobacco Manufacturing Company and U.S. Smokeless Tobacco Brands, both under the Altria Group, Inc. The suit claimed the flavored tobacco ban was preempted by the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act which gave the Food & Drug Administration control over the U.S. tobacco industry.
In her ruling, the judge rejected the lawsuit and wrote that the ban does not prevent the plaintiff’s from making a flavored smokeless tobacco, but rather prohibits them from selling those products in New York City anyplace except a tobacco bar. There are only about a dozen “tobacco bars” left in the city.
Although the Mayor signed the bill into law in 2009, the lawsuit was filed and the ban delayed until the ruling on November 15. Retailers were allowed to sell flavored tobacco products during the interim period. Sales of flavored tobacco products that have a taste or aroma relating to any fruit, chocolate, vanilla, honey, candy, cocoa, dessert, alcoholic beverage, herb or spice are now officially banned. Menthol, mint or wintergreen flavors are still legal.
New York City needs to be applauded for making flavored tobacco more difficult to obtain. Flavored tobacco products are a gateway for children and young adults to become regular tobacco users as the flavored products are viewed by younger users as safer than cigarettes. Flavored smokeless tobacco is more palatable for kids to start with as it is high in sugars and flavorings.
Cigars are easier for kids to buy and are sold as singles, instead of packs, making them cheaper. Another way kids use flavored cigars is by removing some of the tobacco and replacing it with marijuana. When burned, the smell of the flavoring masks the aroma of the drug, making it easier for kids to smoke without arousing a lot of suspicion.
Kids have a few ways to learn about tobacco. They can learn about it from their peers, or they can learn about it from the tobacco industry. Students in Florida can be taught about tobacco and its dangers from educators who have taken the Florida Statewide Tobacco Prevention and Intervention Training Course. The free, online course is available 24/7 to all Florida educators who have a current DOE certificate. This course provides 60 teacher in-service credits as approved by your district. Check it out at: www.tobaccopreventiontraining.org