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NY store owners and lawmakers clash over proposed menthol cigarette ban

As the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) inches closer to a decision on banning menthol cigarettes and flavored tobacco products, New York’s convenience store owners are voicing strong opposition.

They argue that the proposed federal ban, expected to be resolved in spring 2024, could significantly harm small businesses and inadvertently fuel the state’s black market.

The New York Association of Convenience Stores is leading the charge against the ban, emphasizing the devastating economic impact it could have on local retailers, for whom tobacco sales constitute a substantial portion of their revenue.

State health officials, including Gov. Kathy Hochul, have expressed support for the ban, citing health concerns and potential benefits, particularly for communities of color, who are disproportionately affected by menthol cigarette smoking.

The FDA estimates that the ban could prevent hundreds of thousands of smoking-related deaths over the next few decades.

The debate underscores a broader dilemma faced by lawmakers: balancing public health initiatives with the economic realities of small business owners.

As New York grapples with this issue, the final decision on the menthol ban remains uncertain, both at the federal and state levels.