Protesters: Proposed ban on flavored, menthol cigarettes unfairly targets specific communities

Community leaders are urging Westchester County Executive George Latimer to vote against the ban.

News 12 Staff

Nov 11, 2022, 1:56 AM

Updated 565 days ago

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Demonstrators gathered outside the Westchester County office building Thursday to protest a proposed ban on flavored and menthol cigarettes – a ban they say unfairly targets specific communities.
Community leaders are urging Westchester County Executive George Latimer to vote against the ban. They say it directly affects Black and brown communities because about 80% of Hispanic smokers use menthol.
"You're going to take one county out of the whole state and you're going to ban it?" says organizer Damon Jones. "You're going to feed the black market and you're going to increase the black market. Marijuana is legal now, so these kids are going to go out and can probably make more money selling cigarettes than marijuana."
Protesters say if this is a health issue then all cigarettes should be banned.
"If you really want to save lives, help us get the guns off the street," says Andre Wallace, former mayor of Mt. Vernon. "If you really want to save lives, let's start to educate people on how to eat better, how to take care of themselves."
Leaders say they're being unfairly targeted. Proponents of the bill agree, but add they are not being targeted by the legislation.
"They're being targeted by Big Tobacco," says Meghan Dubois O'Connor of Pow'r Against Tobacco. "This is not to punish anyone. This is prevention, this is education. This is so that choices like menthol aren't there anymore, so people don't initiate to smoke."
A public hearing on the matter is expected to take place next week at the Westchester County office building in White Plains.


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