According to reports, Governor Kathy Hochul’s Administration has been accused of looking into implementing a permanent ban on tobacco products. The State Health Department is alleged to have commissioned Research Triangle Institute (RTI) International to conduct a survey distributed to community leaders across the state. This includes county legislators and county directors of public health as per an April 13th memo from the Health Department’s Bureau of Tobacco Control.
The survey asked questions pertaining to the banning of tobacco products. Questions included in the survey were, “What is your opinion about a policy that would end the sale of all tobacco products in New York within 10 years? What is your opinion about a policy that would ban the sale of all tobacco products to those born after a certain date? For example, those born after the year 2010 or later would never be sold tobacco.”
The poll also asked whether tobacco retailers in specific areas should be prevented from selling as well as preventing the sale of tobacco products near schools. An Albany insider informed the NY Post that the survey was a gauge to test the waters and that the possibility of a permanent ban was new territory.
“An outright ban being considered…is all new territory,” the insider said. “And I’ve never seen anything like this where [the state] uses this kind of focus grouping, alliance building, momentum building.”
In Governor Kathy Hochul’s budget proposal, she showed her intention to have flavored tobacco products banned, despite the financial impact it would have on retailers and the state’s revenue from tax gained from the sale of the products.
Kent Sopris, president of the New York Association of Convenience Store Owners, pointed out the hypocrisy in the Governor seeking to ban tobacco products while marijuana products have been legalized. “If you are out there advocating for the expanded sale of retail cannabis that sells candied flavored options, how can you tell regulated legal convenience stores they can’t sell menthol cigarettes to adults?” Sopris said. Sopris also pointed out how a ban on tobacco products would simply encourage New Yorkers to buy theirs out of state.