Letter to the Editor: Sandy Galef on Tobacco Legislation

To the Editor,

Assemblywoman Sandy Galef

While so many of our health efforts this year have been focused on the COVID-19 pandemic, I wanted to bring your attention to some important new health regulations related to tobacco and vape products that became law this July.

A bill that I introduced in the Assembly banning the sale of cigarettes, e-cigarettes, and vaping products in pharmacies passed in this year’s budget. This law ensures that pharmacies remain a place where people buy products and pick up prescriptions that make them healthier. Selling cigarettes and vape products undermines the hard work of pharmacists who are trying to keep New Yorkers healthy.

Other smoking regulations that are now law include a ban on the public advertisement of tobacco and vapor products near schools, a ban on the sale of flavored e-cigarettes and vape products unless given FDA pre-market approval, restrictions on the delivery of e-liquid products only to NYS-licensed vapor retailers, a requirement that vape pen manufactures disclose information about ingredients, by-products, and contaminants in vapor products to the NYS Department of Health, and increased penalties for illegally selling tobacco products to minors.

Smoking is the leading cause of preventable death in the US. The risks of smoking are well known: smokers have a much higher likelihood of developing cancer, diabetes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and heart disease. These new laws are particularly important as we continue fighting against the deadly novel coronavirus. There has been evidence to show that smokers are at increased risk of more severe illness or death from COVID-19.

These new regulations are critical if we are going to make a meaningful impact on the rate of preventable smoking-related disease in our state and make smoking less appealing to our students.

Sandy Galef

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