Monday, November 2, 2009

New York City: No more flavored tobacco products

New York is leading the way on prohibiting Tobacco Products like spit tobacco and flavored cigars

On Wednesday October 28th the Mayor of the City of New York signed an ordinance that would prohibit the sale of most forms of flavored tobacco products. This comes after the FDA prohibited the sale of flavored cigarettes late last month. The City Council approved restricting the sales of many flavors such as chocolate, honey, cherry, grape, or spice flavors but did not address menthol, mint, or evergreen.
This legislation is an important step forward for public health. Data shows that the sale of little cigars, like the Captain Black cherry variety shown to the right has increased by 240% between 1997-2007. Little cigars are sold in singles or packs of twenty for very low prices compared to a pack of cigarettes.

During that same time cigarillo sales increased by almost 150%. Cigarillos are smaller cigars, sold as singles or packs of five like what is shown to the left. This particular product is sour apple flavor. Again a pack of Phillies or Swisher Sweets are $1 for a single and $3-4 per 5-pack. Of note is the fact that larger cigars shown below actually DECREASED in sales by 6%. These are not usually sold in flavors, but are typically pretty expensive costing $10 or more dollars per cigar. These are not sold in gas stations like some of the other products discussed earlier.

The other product affected by this legislation is flavored chew, like the peach Skoal seen below. Skoal, Wolf, and other spit tobacco products are sold in single cans, sometimes in pre-measured pouches, or sometimes loose leaf or long-cut varieties. They are also sold in five packs. These sell in the range of $3-4 a can and a 5 pack is under $20.

This legislation will open the door for other communities to move forward.
The penalties for violators of the new city law may be fined up to $2,000 or have their tobacco-vending license suspended.These are pretty significant charges and hardly worth the sale of these products. Will Wisconsin be next to address this gap in the FDA legislation?

What can you do?

  • Get out there and look at these products! 
    • If you have not educated yourself on these products please do so. It is very enlightening to see the little cigars, cigarillos, and candy flavored spit tobacco. This is a new way Big Tobacco works around increased cigarette taxes and the lack of social acceptability of cigarette smoking.
  • Let your elected officials know these products are out there and are dangerous.  
    • Elected officials need to know that the work of tobacco control is not done yet in Wisconsin. Big Tobacco is far from gone and we have a long way to go to reduce our burden of tobacco. 

For more information:

Best resource on Cigars, Cigarillos, and Little Cigars

Full post from the NY Times

1 comment:

Liz S. said...

So glad to see New York City take this important step. WI legislators should look at restricting candy-flavored tobacco products (other than the already-restricted cigarettes) in advance of Wisconsin's smoke-free law going into effect. Big Tobacco is sure to start pushing smokeless tobacco products once bar patrons aren't able to light up indoors anymore.