New Jersey could become the first state to ban the sale of menthol cigarettes.
Assemblyman Herb Conaway says the cooling effect of menthol allows smokers to inhale more toxic substances that cause health problems.
“Black males in particular are probably as a group the most affected by lung cancer related to smoking. Menthol cigarettes have been heavily advertised in black communities which in my view has led to this very high prevalency rate among black males.”
Mary Ellen Peppard with the New Jersey Food Council says menthol cigarettes account for 35 to 40 percent of all cigarette sales for it member retailers and the proposed ban would represent a significant revenue loss.
“Tens of millions of dollars per member. One member reports approximately $80 million in lost revenue is their estimate.”
Assemblyman Conaway says the revenue loss would be outweighed by the benefits.
“Less health care costs being spent by the government. And what’s the value of a life that’s preserved? What’s the value of a life that can now be extended.”
Assemblyman Erik Peterson was one of the Republicans on the Assembly Health Committee who voted against the ban.
“New Jersey is not a big state geographically. So if Pennsylvania doesn’t do the same thing or New York or Delaware, people travel to those states on a regular basis, they could purchase them there or bring them back.”