Ryan: Flavored Tobacco Products Are the Gateway to Tobacco Use for Western New York Youth – Pushes Legislation to Ban the Sale of Deceptively Marketed Tobacco

April 16, 2012
Federal Ban On Flavored Cigarettes Took Effect In 2009 – But Many Products Intended to Entice Youth and Younger Smokers Like Small Cigars, Chewing Tobacco, And Snuff Still Allowed To Be Sold

State Assembly Passed A Ban In January – Measure is Awaiting Approval in State Senate

Ryan: Flavored Tobacco Products Exist Solely To Get Young People Hooked On Tobacco And Must Be Banned


New York State Assemblyman Sean Ryan today at Roswell Park Cancer Institute called for legislation to be passed immediately that would ban the sale of flavored tobacco products in New York State. In 2009, the Federal Government banned flavored cigarettes, but that ban did not apply to other tobacco products like small cigars, chewing tobacco, snuff, dissolvable tobacco products, and flavored cigar wraps. These types of products are flavored with additives to make the tobacco taste like fruit flavors, chocolate, vanilla, and herbs and spices. These flavorings trick young people by making tobacco more appealing. Recognizing the need to prevent young people from starting a life-long addiction to tobacco, legislation was passed in the New York State Assembly in January banning the sale of most categories of flavored tobacco products. The bi-partisan legislation co-sponsored by Ryan, passed the Assembly on January 30th of this year with an overwhelming majority of 130 in favor and only 13 opposed. The bill is currently in the Senate Health Committee. The same legislation passed the Assembly last year with an equally impressive bi-partisan majority, but eventually died in the Senate. Today, Ryan announced that he is urging the Senate to move the legislation to a vote immediately.

“Tobacco companies know that they need to get kids hooked as soon as possible, and the easiest way to do that is through flavored tobacco products,” said Assemblyman Ryan. “While the federal government has stepped up to the plate to ban flavored cigarettes, there are all kinds of other tobacco products for sale that are flavored specifically to entice young people. New York State must act quickly to ban the sale of these products in an effort to stop our kids from becoming addicted to something so deadly.”

Ryan was joined by Hillary Clarke of the American Cancer Society, Dr. Andrew Hyland from Roswell Park Cancer Institute and Anthony Billoni of the Erie-Niagara Tobacco-Free Coalition, as he pushed for Senate passage of the legislation. Several studies have shown that flavored tobacco products appeal to youth, and tobacco companies have cashed in on this by marketing flavored tobacco products in a deceptive way that makes it appear that such products are safer and healthier than traditional tobacco products. Among adults who smoke, 68 percent began smoking regularly at age 18 or younger. An effective way to prevent life-long tobacco addition is by removing flavored tobacco products from store shelves.

“In recent years, there has been a proliferation of tobacco products such as little cigars, moist snuff, and hookah, for example - available in flavors that may be particularly attractive to children and encourage initiation of tobacco use. While the FDA in 2009 banned the use of characterizing flavorings other than menthol in cigarettes, we believe that ending the use of such flavors in all tobacco products will help to reduce the public health burden of tobacco use,” said Andrew Hyland, PhD, Chair of the Health Behavior Department at Roswell Park Cancer Institute.

"The bottom line is that despite the federal ban on flavored cigarettes, flavored cigars and smokeless tobacco products continue to inappropriately attract new young users," said Hillary Clarke, Advocacy Director at the American Cancer Society. "This bill is a much needed step to protect our children and to reduce their risk of nicotine addiction and the subsequent lethal effects of tobacco."

The legislation would amend the public health law by prohibiting the sale of tobacco products that have a “characterizing flavor”. Characterizing flavor is defined as a distinguishable taste or aroma,
including but not limited to any fruit, chocolate, vanilla, honey candy, cocoa, dessert, alcoholic beverage, herb or spice flavoring. The only exceptions would be pipe tobacco and hand-rolled cigars.

The bill would also set penalties for those who violate the prohibition on selling flavored tobacco products. Those who sell the products would be subject to a fine of up to one hundred dollars for every package of flavored tobacco products sold or offered for sale. Manufacturers who sell, or offer for sale, flavored tobacco products may be subject to a civil penalty of up to fifty thousand dollars for each
brand or style of flavored tobacco product sold or offered for sale on more than one occasion during any thirty day period. Any person may submit a complaint to an enforcement officer stating that a violation has occurred.

“We all know that tobacco companies are desperate to get our kids hooked on their deadly products,” Ryan added. “Trying to masquerade tobacco products, and market them to our kids with “fun” flavors needs to come to an end. The Senate should to act quickly to approve this legislation.”

The bill in the Assembly is A.0288, and in the Senate is S.5008. For more information please contact Assemblyman Ryan’s Buffalo office at 716.885.9630.