Last week New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg signed into law a ban on the sale of flavored toba
cco products that takes effect in February. This ordinance goes beyond the arbitrary, irrational federal ban on flavored cigarettes, since it also covers cigars, pipe tobacco, and smokeless tobacco. As with the federal ban, the official rationale is that the newly prohibited products appeal to children. According to the Staten Island Advocate, "health experts say [flavored tobacco products] are a blatant attempt to hook young people on a dangerous product." Michele Bonan of the American Cancer Society calls them "Big Tobacco's training wheels," while Council Speaker Christine Quinn (D-Manhattan) says banning them is necessary "to protect the children of New York City."
The rest of the city council evidently was swayed by this argument, since all but one member voted for the ban. Yet Bonan and Quinn have no idea what they're talking about, and they have no evidence to back up their bald assertions. Are they seriously maintaining that cherry-flavored pipe tobacco, which you may recall your grandfather smoking, is part of a plot to lure teenagers into nicotine addiction? Do they honestly believe that the kids today are into rum-flavored cigars, or that they are sneaking into Nat Sherman to score the latest offering from CAO or Drew Estate?
Like the federal ban, the New York City ban makes an exception for one kind of flavored tobacco product that really is widely consumed by teenagers: menthol cigarettes. And since selling tobacco to minors is already illegal (as the lone dissenter on the city council noted), the only sales that will be blocked by the ban will be sales to adults. Still, it's for the kids.
More on flavored tobacco products here.
[via The Rest of the Story]