On Monday night, the Westchester County Board of Legislators passed a bill that will ban the sale of flavored tobacco products in the county.
The bill includes a ban on the sale, distribution and marketing of all flavored tobacco products, including those with menthol, mint and wintergreen. It does not prohibit the use of such products within county lines, however.
“This is a positive step for public health in Westchester County,” said Legislator Williams Johnson, sponsor of the bill and Chair of the Committee on Health, via a press release. “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. 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.”
The bill, which passed by an 11-6 vote, now heads to the desk of County Executive George Latimer, for his signature or veto. Lattimer has not yet indicated his plans for the bill, other than that a spokesperson said he will review the bill. If signed into law, the bill would go into effect six months following its enactment.
If it goes into law, the county’s health department will be tasked with enforcing the law, and retailers who violate the law will face a first-time fine of $300, which can climb to $1,500 for each subsequent violation within a two-year period. A third violation would result in the retailer losing its license for six months.
Westchester County is located to the north of the New York City metro area and is home to approximately 998,000 residents.