New York's acting health commissioner is making a push to ban flavored tobacco products in New York amid opposition from Democratic lawmakers in the Legislature. 

Dr. James McDonald on Thursday became the latest voice in addition to anti-smoking advocates to call for a ban on flavored products like menthol cigarettes in New York, a provision contained in Gov. Kathy Hochul's $227 billion budget proposal. 

The measure has been opposed by the tobacco industry as well as convenience store organizations in New York, who have argued a ban would not be effective against a thriving black market. 

But McDonald pointed to the impact that menthol products have had on getting younger people addicted to tobacco. 

"It's the tobacco industry's spoonful of sugar — not to get the medicine to go down, but to really get our kids addicted to tobacco," he said in an interview. "It also will help some adults quit smoking."

It's estimated 171,000 New Yorkers would quit smoking under a menthol ban. 

"That's enough people to fill Yankee Stadium and Citi Field twice," he said. "That's a sizable number of New Yorkers and I think that's really important."

The proposal to ban menthol has been packaged with a $1 tax increase for cigarette packs in the state. Democrats in the state Senate and Assembly have publicly supported the tax increase in their own budget proposals, but dropped Hochul's proposed flavored product ban. 

Kent Sopris, of the New York Association of Convenience Stores, an industry group, has opposed both provisions in the budget, calling them ineffective against fighting addiction.  

"When the state has forced all tobacco products out of regulated, taxed, and legal retail stores and into the illicit marketplace what will they do when people continue to smoke?" he said. "As we've seen with cannabis sales sometimes the public interest is best served by legalizing the sale of products. Prohibition has never worked and will continue to fail as a social policy while feeding an increasingly omnipresent underground market. If this is about stopping youth smoking, I regret to inform you that the guy on the street corner doesn't card." 

McDonald has been serving in an acting capacity as the state's health commissioner since the start of the year. Earlier this month, Hochul nominated him to become the commissioner outright, a post that is subject to confirmation by the state Senate.