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New York State Bans Sale of Flavored E-Cigarette Products

— May 21, 2020

Lobbyists say the ban will force adult nicotine addicts to return to traditional tobacco products.

The sale of flavored e-cigarette products is now completely illegal in the entirety of New York State.

New York, reports ABC News10, has also banned the sale of any tobacco products in pharmacies. Retailers who are caught violating the order will be fined up to $100 for each product they have on stock and available for purchase.

Advocates of the state’s strict new laws say they will help protect children and youth from nicotine addiction. Indeed, New York lawmakers and prosecutors have been among the nation’s outspoken critics of e-cigarette manufacturers like Juul.

Juul—as LegalReader’s mentioned many times before—has been accused of explicitly marketing flavored e-cigarettes to teenagers. One state-led investigation, for instance, found that Juul representatives had intentionally and directly approached children at a high school assembly.

But industry lobbyists, like Mike Kruger, the “Capital District Director” of the New York State Vapor Association, said the new policy may be e-cigarettes’ death knell.

Man smoking e-cigarette while breaking a traditional cigarette in half; image by, via Flickr, CC BY 2.0, no changes.
Man smoking e-cigarette while breaking a traditional cigarette in half; image by, via Flickr, CC BY 2.0, no changes.

“It’s very hard to tell what the customer’s going to do. I can tell you, over the past 45 days since we’ve been waiting on this to go into effect, I’ve had a lot of customers tell me that they’re going to eventually go back to smoking,” Kruger said.

Kruger’s argument is not uncommon—but it is one that receives relatively little media attention. E-cigarettes have, undoubtedly, helped many adult smokers quit traditional, combustible tobacco products.

At the same time, though, the rise of e-cigarettes has coincided with a historic resurgence in rates of nicotine use among young adults.

Of course, vapor lobbyists stress the benefits of their products to adult ex-smokers. Groups like the Vapor Technology Association have also reiterated the catastrophic economic damage their industry may face as a consequence of new restrictions.

“At a time when New York small businesses are barely holding on, New York’s statewide ban on flavored vapor products will close most of the 694 small mom and pop vape shops, throw 6,000 more New Yorkers out of work, and add another $680M wrench in the state’s budget crisis,” VTA Executive Director Tony Abboud said in a statement. “In addition to the serious negative economic impacts of the flavor ban, New York lawmakers are forcing adults who rely on vapor products as their alternative to cigarettes back to traditional smoking or to the dangerous black market. In short, everyone in New York loses with the short-sighed flavor ban—small businesses, employees, taxpayers, and public health.”

However, challenging the flavor ban may not be an easy task. WBNG12 notes that New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has fought numerous lawsuits and injunctions to make the ban a reality.

Last September, Cuomo tried to ban flavored e-cigarettes products with an executive order. But the state’s supreme court found Cuomo had overstepped his authority.

In response, the New York Assembly passed S. 7506-B, a budget bill which included a provision banning the sale of flavored vapor products.

Judy Rightmyer, director of Capital District Tobacco Free Communities, said lawmakers have done the right thing by curtailing children’s access to nicotine.

“What this law is really seeking to do is to stop that young person from smoking,” Rightmyer said. “And getting rid of flavors will do that, because we know the majority of kids use flavors and they won’t just go to the tobacco flavors.”


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