A campaign to ban menthol tobacco products in New York state has drawn support from Bronx Borough President Vanessa Gibson and other nonprofits who aim for a tobacco-free generation in the Bronx.
The renewed push comes after both the state Senate and Assembly passed one house budgets that didn’t include Gov. Kathy Hochul’s flavored-tobacco ban, which includes menthols.
Menthols are used by half of all adult smokers in the state but predominately Black (86%) and Hispanic (72%) smokers.
And the Bronx has historically been among the city’s highest-smoking areas, with rates hovering around 13%, as of 2021, second to Staten Island (20%).
Some Bronx smokers feel it’s not the city nor the state’s business whether they want to smoke or not. Kingsbridge native Darius Winston, 35, said he’s been smoking for 23 years because his mother and grandmother “smoked a pack” everyday.
“I hear the health concerns, but when I think about all the other vices out there, I’m willing to take my chances because I enjoy the buzz I get,” said Winston. “My mom ain’t die of cancer, neither did my grandmother, so it really never scared me to think about what might happen to me.”