In recent months a heated debate has raged on between advocates and for and against the proposed tax increase for cigarettes in New York State. Well another discussion stemming from this debate that is rearing its head again is the usage and particularly the sale of menthol and other tobacco flavored products in New York.

There Is No Smoking Allowed
Jan Pitman/Getty Images

Currently the issue of the tobacco tax increase is something that is being deliberated in the current NYS budget. The budget itself still currently has not been released, though it originally had a due date of April 1, 2023. Regardless, this latest instance is another chapter in the long 'Big Tobacco' battle.

New York Health Commissioners Reasoning for Pursuing a Ban

Advocates for the banning of menthol and other flavored tobacco products have been known for many years now. Dr. James McDonald, the acting Health Commissioner of New York is merely the latest individual to throw his hat into the ring so to speak.

The rationale by Dr. McDonald is quite simple; menthol and other flavored tobacco products are popular. The popularity of the flavors has led to many people picking up smoking. The popularity of flavored products has also led to numerous individuals becoming addicted to the products.

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In addition, Dr. McDonald also points out how flavored products like these are also incredibly attractive to younger individuals, particularly kids. As Dr. McDonald's description of these products was simply...

It's the tobacco industry's spoonful of sugar — not to get the medicine to go down....

Though it is implied, the doctors number one reason for advocating for a ban such as this is that he believes it would lead to many people quitting smoking. Estimated numbers show that if a ban was put into effect, it could then potentially lead to '171,000' individuals to quit.

Young happy woman with broken cigarette. Stop smoking concept.

The Response from the Other Side of the Aisle

As it has been with this debate, there's more than just one side and one view of this particular issue. In particular the New York Association of Convenience Stores has been adamantly against the tax increase as well as the menthol ban which has been looped into the budget plan.

Joe Raedle
Joe Raedle

Kent Sopris,the president of this organization has been steadfast in his determinations of these increases and bans. Sopris in his criticisms has not minced words and has essentially likened these proposals to 'prohibition'. This essentially means that increasing the price of the product or banning certain products will not stop people from trying to procure those same products.

How Does This Battle End?

As previously stated, this issue is currently wrapped up in the NYS budget debate. Any type of end to this skirmish won't come around until we can all see what is officially approved in the state budget.

Man driving and smoking joint

As for the logic and reasoning of each party in this debate and why they believe what they do, fact is they both make valid points. I've said it before but there's not a single person today that doesn't know that smoking or using tobacco products is bad for you. It's common sense now. That being said, thousands and thousands of people still use the products even though they know the effects that they can have on one's health.

It's easy to see why individuals like Dr. McDonald want to see these proposals pass and it's also easy to see why someone like Mr. Sopris don't want these proposals to pass. The fact of the matter is as it has been from the beginning; the issue of choice. Fundamentally people are going to make their own individual choices and no matter what the eventual verdict is on this issue, people will still find a way to make their choice on the matter.

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