The National Association of Tobacco Outlets (NATO) is responding to tough New York City proposed ordinances on tobacco.
NATO sent each New York City Council member a letter opposing a proposed ordinance that would ban the sale of flavored tobacco products, including flavored cigarettes, flavored cigars and flavored chewing tobacco. NATO also followed up the letters by submitting a commentary letter-to-the-editor to the New York Times regarding the prohibition-style proposal. Because each New York City newspaper has a policy of publishing commentary letters on an exclusive basis, if the New York Times declines to print the commentary letter, then the letter will be submitted successively to the New York Daily News, the Wall Street Journal and the New York Post.
In the letter, NATO stated, “On June 22, 2009, a bill was signed into law by President Obama authorizing the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to regulate the manufacture, distribution and sale of tobacco products. Specifically, the new law bans the sale of flavored cigarettes nationwide (except menthol cigarettes) as of September 22, 2009. That is, the proposed New York City ban of flavored cigarettes is moot since the federal law will supercede any city or state regulation. The report cites an American Lung Association study from 2006 which claims that ‘teenagers ages 17 to 19 were more than three times more likely to smoke flavored cigarettes than smokers over the age of 25.’ Then, in the next sentence, the report extrapolates the findings of this study to assert that ‘thus, flavored tobacco is a serious public health issue because of its appeal to youth.’ To claim that a study regarding flavored cigarette smoking rates results in all flavored tobacco products like cigars being a serious health issue is an illogical and unsubstantiated extrapolation of the study’s findings and cannot support the underlying intent of the proposed regulation to reduce youth smoking.”
NATO also is fighting the New York City Department of Health’s proposal that health warning signs with pictures of the health impact of smoking cigarettes be prominently displayed at each cash register and at each cigarette display in stores that sell cigarettes.
The proposed signs would be provided by the Department of Health and measure at least 18 inches by 18 inches up to 36 inches by 36 inches. NATO has submitted a set of comments to the New York City Department of Health opposing this sign proposal.