BRiDGES: Another big step forward for New Yorkers’ health

Discounts on the sale of all tobacco products, such as coupons and multi-pack price promotions, are prohibited in New York state beginning July 1. The law was passed as part of the state’s fiscal year 2021 budget. Research shows that higher tobacco prices are linked to lower smoking rates.1

“When people order vape products online, they are easily able to lie about their age just by typing a random date of birth,” said Amélie Rohlin, BRiDGES Reality Check community leader. “Stopping the shipping of vape products to private residences prevents huge issues like e-cigarette companies distributing their products to underage consumers.”

This new law limits the tobacco industry’s ability to circumvent New York state’s high taxes on tobacco products, which are proven to reduce smoking prevalence, especially among youth.1 It is a significant victory in combating Big Tobacco’s long history of discounts and other pricing schemes that target youth, minority communities, low-income communities and people trying to quit.2 The average age that teens first start smoking in New York state is 13 years old,3 and 90 percent of adult smokers say they first tried smoking by age 18.4

A number of tobacco control measures passed as part of the state’s fiscal year 2021 budget, including a new law that stops the shipping or delivery of e-cigarettes and vape products to private residences beginning July 1, providing another important protection for youth. Several of the new laws took effect May 18, including the end of all tobacco product sales in pharmacies and the end of flavored e-cigarette sales statewide. Nearly 40 percent of high school seniors in New York state use e-cigarettes, also referred to as “vaping,” and 27 percent of all high school youth vape. 5

Tobacco companies continue to aggressively market their products in stores across the state, using colorful walls of tobacco products and marketing materials that are highly appealing to teens. There is overwhelming evidence that the more young people see tobacco, the more likely they are to start smoking.6 More cigarettes are sold in convenience stores than in any other type of store, and 70 percent of adolescents shop in convenience stores at least once a week — where they are more likely to be exposed to pro-smoking messages. 7

“Convenience stores sell more tobacco products than any other type of store,” said Ella Camp, BRiDGES Reality Check community leader. “Seventy percent of youth shop in convenience stores, therefore prohibiting tobacco product displays and advertising in exterior windows and storefronts within 1,500 feet of a school will make them less likely to see Big Tobacco’s deceitful marketing.”

For help quitting smoking or vaping, including free nicotine replacement therapy for eligible residents, individuals can contact a health care provider and call the state Smokers’ Quitline at 866.NY.QUITS or visit Effective medications and counseling are covered by Medicaid and most insurance programs.

Tobacco-Free New York State and Reality Check student groups around the state have worked tirelessly to educate local communities about the need to protect children from the billions of dollars of tobacco marketing in places where kids can see it. The statewide “Seen Enough Tobacco” initiative is focused on putting an end to youth smoking and other tobacco use. Tobacco-Free New York State, including the Reality Check student youth groups, is part of the NYS Tobacco Control Program.

  1. Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids. Raising Cigarette Taxes Reduces Smoking, Especially Among Kids, June 2019, accessed June 2020.
  2. Public Health and Tobacco Policy Center. Tobacco Retail Licensing: Promoting Health Through Local Sales Regulation, Oct. 2017, rev. Jan. and May 2020, accessed June 8, 2020.
  3. Information about Tobacco Use, Smoking and Secondhand Smoke,
  4. A Report of the Surgeon General “The Health Consequences of Smoking—50 Years of Progress” 2014, p. 12, 696, 708:
  5. NYS Dept. of Health, Bureau of Tobacco Control, StatShot Vol. 12, No. 4/Oct 2019, Trends in Electronic Cigarette Use Among High School Youth NYS-YTS 2014-2018.
  6. Public Health and Tobacco Policy Center. Tobacco Retail Licensing: Promoting Health Through Local Sales Regulation, Oct. 2017, rev. Jan. and May 2020, accessed June 8, 2020.
  7. New York State Department of Health. Health Data NY. Youth Tobacco Survey: Beginning 2000. Updated May 18, 2017, accessed June 8, 2020.

By martha

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