Westchester County Executive George Latimer announced his disapproval and veto of proposed menthol and flavor tobacco ban – Local Law Intro. No 461-2022 – and announces a Westchester Tabacco Free Program, Monday, December 12th. The new Tobacco Free Program will include a tobacco education campaign – funding and implement a robust $3 million-dollar public education campaign to all residents highlighting the dangers of tobacco usage, offer to help smokers quit smoking and to support local community efforts to quit smoking
“We will include a new direct grant program to community-based nonprofits directly involved in tobacco cessation as part of their anti-addiction efforts in particular those groups like local NAACP branches who have advocated for efforts to reduce smoking in communities of color,” CE Latimer informed. “This program will be crafted with the assistance and oversight of members of the Board of Legislators to assure we are reaching all smokers regardless of their geographic or demographics status. This effort will involve our health department, community mental health department, youth board and other related departments and offices of Westchester County Government to assure it success.”
CE Latimer also announced a Tobacco Enforcement Campaign, a multilevel program that the county will develop working with state and local government resources to assure improved enforcement of the county’s existing 21 age limit, under the leadership of Deputy County Executive Ken Jenkins, (see video of CE Latimer’s announcement in its entirety below).
Westchester County Board of Legislators passed a flavored tobacco ban, 11-6 on Monday, November 28th, that had the potential to send menthol cigarettes, mint smokeless and vape sales into an already existing black market.
Some groups and individuals like the African American Tobacco Control Leadership Council (AATCLC), a group of Black professionals dedicated to fighting the scourge of tobacco impacting African American communities and its Co-chair Dr. Phillip Gardiner, a Public Health activist, administrator, evaluator and researcher and Dr. Hazel N. Dukes, who is President of the NAACP New York State Conference and a member of the NAACP National Board of Directors, a member of the NAACP Executive Committee have publicly supported this ban sponsored by Legislator Chistopher Johnson and co-sponsored by Legislator Jewel Williams-Johnson.
Many have publicly announced their objection to this kind of band including the Grand Council of Guardians, the National Action Network, The New York Association of Convenience Stores, Eric Garner’s mom Gwen Carr, NYS Assemblyman Nadar Sayegh (Dist. 90), Damon K. Jones of Blacks in Law Enforcement of America (BLEA), Reverend Dr. Carl Washington, Jr., Mount Vernon resident and Pastor of the New Mount Zion Baptist Church in Harlem, Sylvia T. Miranda of The National Latino Officers Assoc. (NLOA), Andre Wallace Former Mayor of Mount Vernon, George Brown Vice Chair of the Mount Vernon Democratic City Committee, Jesse Van Lew co-founder of Save Mount Vernon, James Nolan Westchester County Legislator District 15 and others.
The proposed ban may still become a law. The BOL can vote again on the proposal and “override the veto” by a two-thirds vote in favor. The 11-6 vote suggests that they not have the required 12 votes needed to override Latimer’s veto, killing all chances of this ban from becoming law. Insiders tell us, its highly unlikely legislators who voted no, will go against the County Executive by changing their vote to give the BOL the votes to override the veto.
CE Latimer have a press conference scheduled for 9:30AM on Tuesday, December 13th to further discuss other measures that the county will be taking in lieu of the ban. If the bill does pass, this law shall take effect six months after enactment.
Stay tuned to Black Westchester for more on this developing story. To see all our extensive coverage of the Westchester Menthol Ban, click here.