New tobacco control measures are now in effect across New York.
On July 1st some big changes came to New York state tobacco regulations, the result of a law passed as part of the 2021 state budget. Discounts on the sale of all tobacco products, such as coupons and multi-pack price promotions, are now prohibited in the Empire State.
Judy Rightmyer, director of Capital District Tobacco-Free Communities, hails the new law as a significant victory. She points out that the average age that kids first start smoking in New York State is 13.
"The coupons of buy one, get one free have resulted in the products being very affordable. And what we know is that if we can keep tobacco prices high, youth smoking rates and even adult smoking rates will decrease. For every 10 percent increase in cigarette prices, you can see a decrease in youth smoking by about 7 percent. And decrease in adult smoking rates by about 2 percent."
American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, Senior New York Government Relations Director Julie Hart says the measure also halts the online sale of e-cigarettes.
"This is really important because a lot of kids were getting e-cigarettes through online sales and then having them shipped to their house, so we're really excited that that piece is also being put into effect. These are steps. There's more that we need to do. We need to increase the amount that we actually spend on our state tobacco control program because we know the tobacco industry isn't gonna be spending less. New York State alos needs to stop the sale of all flavored tobacco products. We made a great first step in terms of stopping the sale of flavored e-cigarettes, but we need to look at all products."
Hart and Rightmyer says the law is a move to stop tobacco companies from taking advantage of youth, communities of color, low-income neighborhoods and people trying to quit.
According to Rightmyer, nearly 40% of high school seniors in New York engage in "vaping" and 27% of all high schoolers vape. She adds more cigarettes are sold in convenience stores than in any other type of store, and 70% of adolescents shop in convenience stores at least once a week — where they are more likely to be exposed to pro-smoking messages.
Rightmyer notes there are two other components to the new law:
"An end to tobacco displays and advertising within 1500 feet of schools. So no longer will tobacco retailers be able to advertise tobacco, cigarettes, vaping products, if those reatilers are within 1500 feet of schools or 500 feet of schools in New York City. We know that the more youth speak about the marketing, the more likely they are to smoke. So, the ban on exterior advertising and display of tobacco products will help cut that, like, appeal that some of the kids see when they're near school. And finally, the law will raise the penalty for sales violations to those under age 21."
Activists are also applauding two laws that went into effect in May that ended tobacco sales in pharmacies and the sale of flavored vaping products.