ALBANY, NY (WENY) — Last week in their one-house budget resolutions, New York legislators did not fully advance the governor’s proposal to expand the state’s ban on the sale of flavored vaping products and tobacco to include menthol.
The Senate modified the governor’s proposal and the Assembly rejected it. The governor’s budget also proposes a one dollar increase to the cigarette tax which both houses advance in their resolutions.
But some lawmakers said these proposals are not the solution to reducing smoking
“It’s not going to solve the problem, people are still going to smoke whether you ban it, whether you even put advertising out there. They’re gonna do what they wanna do but they’re gonna go to the place where they can get it the cheapest,” said Assembly Member Phil Palmesano (R-Corning).
Palmesano added New Yorkers will go to state’s like Pennsylvania where the tax on cigarettes is $2.60 compared to New York’s $4.35.
Some cancer advocates feel differently. They said these proposals will help prevent New Yorkers from getting cancer and ultimately save lives.
“One of the things that we know is that increasing the cost on a pack of cigarettes is one of the most effective things that you can do to reduce smoking rates and to drive people to quit. That, as well as reducing access to products like flavored tobacco products,” said Michael Davoli, New York Senior Government Relations Director at American Cancer Society.
For advocate Rebecca Oechsner, this fight is personal. She watched her father smoke most of his life. In March of 2013, Oechsner’s father was diagnosed with stage four lung cancer. He died 20 days after his diagnosis.
“If anybody needs a reason to quit smoking it’s watching someone dying of lung cancer in the ICU with hoses stuck into your lung trying to drain them trying make you breathe,” Oechsner said.
Oechsner said if her father didn’t smoke, he might still be here today to watch her now 18-year-old daughter grow up and go to college to study forensic criminology.
These proposals will be negotiated between legislators and the governor and the final budget plan is due on April 1.