LOWER MANHATTAN (PIX11) — Dueling rallies will be held in Lower Manhattan on Thursday, one for and the other against efforts to outlaw the sale of menthol cigarettes.
Pushes are underway in Albany and the New York City Council to ban the flavored cigarettes in an effort to curb smoking-related illnesses and deaths, particularly among populations that favor menthol smokes. A similar push is underway at the national level. New York has already banned flavored vaping products, saying that they hook young smokers.
Among those leading the opposition to the proposed bans is Gwen Carr, whose son, Eric Garner, was killed by police on Staten Island in 2014 after he was suspected of selling loose cigarettes. Carr said that enforcement of a menthol ban could be the catalyst to more potentially dangerous interactions with the police.
“We don’t need law enforcement coming into our neighborhoods, saying that they seen us smoking menthol cigarettes,” Carr said.
The NAACP and local clergy leaders, meanwhile, will rally in support of the bans, disputing the notion that smokers would be criminalized and saying that only cigarette sellers would be penalized for violating the proposed prohibition.