Flavored Tobacco Ban Graphic

White Plains, NY — Monday night, the Board of Legislators (BOL) passed a bill banning the retail sale and distribution of flavored tobacco products in Westchester County. The legislation will be one of the most comprehensive in the state by banning all tobacco flavors, including menthol, mint, and wintergreen.

The new legislation takes action to address socioeconomic health disparities and youth experimentation by restricting access to flavored tobacco products without criminalizing consumers. Scientific data definitively shows how harmful and deadly prolonged use of flavored tobacco is on the human body. Furthermore, limiting the ability to purchase these dangerous products increases the likelihood of smoking cessation among current smokers and reduces user initiation, primarily in teens and young adults.

“This is a positive step for public health in Westchester County. It is good policy and protects the vulnerable from continuing to be exploited by Big Tobacco. We seized an opportunity to shield our citizens, especially children from the challenges of nicotine addiction and related health risks,” remarked Legislator Williams Johnson, sponsor of the bill and Chair of the Committee on Health, “In passing this legislation, our Board has set an example for other jurisdictions to follow. The lives of our children and families are worth so much more than the millions of dollars tobacco manufacturers make from the intentional, long-term destruction of our communities.”

“People under 25 are more susceptible to nicotine dependency because the human brain is still developing. Menthol enhances the effects of nicotine on the brain leading to lower impulse control and higher risks of lifelong addiction. By banning these lethal products, we are going to save lives,” Chairwoman Catherine Borgia commented, “I congratulate Health Committee Chair Legislator Williams Johnson for her tenacity in getting this legislation over the finish line.”

Across the country, the call to ban flavored tobacco is mounting. Earlier this year, the United States Federal Drug Administration (FDA) proposed a federal ban on menthol and other flavored tobacco products. Following that announcement, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) endorsed the FDA’s proposal citing the decades of disproportionate targeting to communities of color. Westchester County joins a growing list of over 350 localities that have already passed measures to restrict flavored tobacco products.

Legislator Christopher Johnson added, "The road to getting this bill passed was full of roadblocks. But, even with intense pressure from the tobacco industry, we remained resilient to make Westchester pioneers in the fight against flavored tobacco. We urge our counterparts in other counties to do the same."

Legislator Erika Pierce said, “Tonight Westchester took a giant leap forward towards creating generations of smoke-free Westchester residents. I am extremely grateful to Dr. Philip Gardiner, Dr. Hazel Dukes, the many other advocates, and to my colleague Legislator Williams Johnson for leading the charge on this important investment in our community’s health.”

Enforcement of this ban will rest solely with the County Department of Health and not by any other agency, especially not those responsible for criminal law enforcement. There are no criminal penalties to individuals for using flavored tobacco products, however fines will be issued to businesses found out of compliance.

This local law shall take effect six months after enactment.