NEW YORK (PIX11) — Gwen Carr, the mother of Eric Garner, was just one of the activists speaking out on the steps of City Hall on Tuesday. They are pushing back on efforts by Gov. Kathy Hochul and the New York City Council to ban menthol-flavored cigarettes, which are the overwhelming cigarette of choice in communities of color.
Critics say a ban on just menthol cigarettes is akin to racial profiling. They worry of stop-and-frisk incidents and tragedies like the one that led to Garner’s death on Staten Island in 2014. Garner was suspected of illegally selling loose cigarettes before being put in a fatal police chokehold.
The issue is complicated. The president of New York’s NAACP supports the governor’s proposed ban on menthol cigarettes and so do health experts who say they prey on communities of color.
One of the biggest issues in the debate centers on who would enforce any ban on menthols. Supporters say it would only be medical professionals, not police. But activists don’t believe that.
Protesters hope the governor and City Council will reconsider any menthol cigarette ban.