Conflicting rallies over proposed ban on menthol cigarettes held outside of City Hall, NAACP
Opposing rallies were held outside of City Hall arguing for and against a ban on menthol-flavored cigarettes.
A proposal from Gov. Kathy Hochul would expand the state’s ban on flavored vaping products to all tobacco products, including menthol cigarettes.
Prominent members and advocates within the Black community rallied on Thursday, divided.
A group of mothers and women who lost loved ones to police brutality are against the state’s menthol ban, concerned that it will unfairly target brown and Black communities and lead to more possible negative interactions with police.
Among those against the proposal is Gwen Carr, the mother of Eric Garner. Eric Garner died in 2014 after being put in a chokehold for selling loose cigarettes.
“We don’t need any more police enforcement,” said Carr. “We had enough.”
Joining her was Philonise Floyd, the brother of George Floyd, whose death to police brutality in 2020 sparked a national movement.
“We should not be banning menthol cigarettes,” said Philonise. “It’s an excuse to murder one of our kids.”
Outside of NYPD headquarters, members of the NAACP rallied in support of the ban on menthol cigarettes. For Shanequa Charles, who lost many family members due to smoking, the dangers of smoking and the prominence of menthol cigarettes in Black communities is enough to back the ban.
“Menthol cigarettes … are the AR-15 to tobacco, they are a killer,” said Charles.
Advocates at the rally say that Black citizens make up approximately 85% of people who smoke menthol cigarettes. They are pointing to a provision in the proposed ban that prohibits police enforcement against menthol users.