Movement to ban sales of cigarettes heats up

The debate swirling around smoking and the sale of cigarettes is heating up again. The public health group Action on Smoking and Health, or ASH, and 148 organizations released a statement calling for governments around the world to "commit to work towards phasing out sales of combustible tobacco products." 

The New York State Health Association supports the movement. So does the Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center in Buffalo, said Andrew Hyland, the chair of the center's Department of Health Behavior.

"When will the last cigarette be sold? When is enough, enough?" Hyland said. "This is a movement that started in communities in California that have banned the sale of retail cigarettes." 

He said the global pandemic has heightened the urgency of ASH's mission and proven that it is time to start talking about new ways to reduce smoking in our communities. 

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Critics say eliminating the sale of cigarettes is unrealistic, especially in a place like New York

"Some people say this is a radical idea," Hyland said, "but what's radical is allowing a product that kills half of its users when it's used as intended to be sold on every street corner."

Smoking is already banned in restaurants, bars, most indoor businesses, schools, and public parks in New York City.