BRIDGEPORT, Conn. (WTNH) — The Bridgeport City Council is looking to join 100-other cities around the country in banning the sale of all flavored tobacco products which includes menthol cigarettes.
The move comes as state lawmakers at the capitol are considering a similar ban.
Bridgeport City Council President Aidee Nieves admits she is hooked. “The mango is one of the things that keeps me going back and got me interested in vaping.”
Nieves is now spearheading the city’s ban on the sale of all flavored tobacco products.
Dr. Magna Dias from Yale New Haven’s Children Hospital says much has been done in the country to stop kids from smoking, but “… it’s really never going to be reduced until we take that flavoring out.”
If the ordinance is passed, city health inspectors would be responsible for spot checks at convenience stores. The owner would have months to get rid of the products or face a fine.
“We want to make sure this is not criminalization, so this is not going to be driven by the police department. This is more of the health department,” added Nieves.
The New England Convienance Store Association says the ban is misdirected.
“To include traditional tobacco products that have a very very small narrow youth appeal is really only going to affect adults in the state of Connecticut,” said John Shaer Executive Director of the New England Convienance Store Association.
Traditional products specifically menthol cigarettes. Shaer’s study shows youth appeal is on the vape at 19.6 percent, cigarettes at 4.9 percent, smokeless tobacco chew at 3.1 percent and cigars at five percent.
The Federal government extended the restriction of online sales of cigarettes and most recently cracked down on flavored e-cigs.
Meantime, a statewide ban up for debate at the state capitol is igniting. One state lawmaker blames big tobacco for intentionally going after minority communities.
State Senator Dennis Bradley of Bridgeport says, “There is clear evidence here that they specifically target African Americans and smoking of the menthol cigarettes. This is almost an act of genocide when you sell menthol cigarettes.”
The Bridgeport City Council will start to debate the idea next week. On Monday, state lawmakers will hold a virtual public hearing in the Public Health Committee to debate the bill to ban the sale statewide.
For more information and to view the CDC’s National Youth Tobacco Survey, click here.