May 24, 2009 - New York City Councilman Joel Rivera (D-Bronx) presided over a public hearing yesterday, 5/21 on two bills. One bill would ban flavored tobacco and the other would ban smoking outside hospitals. Both measures were enthusiastically supported by the city Health Department and a number of anti-smoking advocates.
The bills drew opposition from tobacco industry representatives. No vote was taken by the committee, although Rivera and other sponsors said the bills have strong support.
Rivera is the prime sponsor of the bill to ban flavored tobacco products, which he said are particularly attractive to teens. It would outlaw the sale of exotically flavored tobacco cigarettes and cigars, with the exception of menthol, mint or clove flavors. Health Department counsel Anne Pearson said the agency supports both bills, although she expressed concern that the ban on flavored tobacco exempts tobacco intended to be used in hookahs (water-filtrated pipes) that have become a trend with young people in neighborhoods such as the East Village and the lower East Side.
The prime sponsor of the ban on smoking outside hospitals is City Councilwoman Inez Dickens (D-Manhattan), who said the idea was proposed to officials at Harlem Hospital. Her bill would ban smoking on the grounds of a hospital, sidewalks adjacent to a hospital and within 15 feet of any hospital entrance.
A representative of Altria's tobacco companies, which includes Philip Morris, said regulation of tobacco products should be left to the federal government. And Audrey Silk of Citizens Lobbying Against Smoker Harassment (CLASH) said adults are being punished in the name of restricting tobacco sales to minors. <----- this is the way it should be - TobaccoWatch.org..
Maine and New Jersey, have already have banned exotically flavored cigarettes and cigars.
References: City Council bills would ban candy-flavored tobacco, smoking outside of hospitals bY Frank Lombardi, New York DAILY NEWS CITY HALL BUREAU 5/22/2009;
Metro Briefing | New York: Manhattan: Ban Proposed For Candy-Flavored Tobacco by WINNIE HU (NYT); COMPILED BY JOHN SULLIVAN, The New York Times, 6/1/2006.
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