State lawmakers must stand up to Big Tobacco
Let me get this straight. First lawmakers and the governor slashed funding for the state program that provides thousands of cancer screenings for the poor. They followed this up by caving to e-cigarette and tobacco companies. Somehow a previous agreement to include e-cigarettes in the areas where smoking is prohibited mysteriously vanished.
While the state’s Clean Indoor Air Act prohibits smoking in all workplaces to protect workers, e-cigarettes are not included simply because they didn’t exist when the law was passed in 2003.
Industry claims that this will hurt business are completely unfounded. Erie County has already successfully extended clean indoor air protections to e-cigarettes. More importantly, since when do we put e-cigarette interests above health? Caving to Big Tobacco and the e-cigarette industry is a slippery slope and could set us on a dangerous path. It is just plain shameful given the industry targets kids. New York State Department of Health data shows a staggering increase in the use of e-cigarettes. Twenty percent of New York high school students now use e-cigarette products.
It’s time to put health and kids before Big Tobacco and e-cigarettes. I will be reaching out to my representatives to tell them this is unacceptable. Lawmakers need to stand up for kids, not Big Tobacco, and close the e-cigarette loophole when they return to Albany.
Katie L. Kestel Martin