New York will become only the second state nationwide to crack down on flavored e-cigarettes.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is laying down emergency regulations against flavored e-cigarettes.
According to The New York Times, Cuomo’s decision comes amidst reports of several vape-related deaths nationwide. It follows a Trump administration directive to outlaw flavored nicotine pods at the federal level.
However, Cuomo’s order—if approved—would make New York only the second state in the nation, after Michigan, to ban flavored e-cigarettes.
Cuomo’s characterized the use of e-cigarette use among underaged youth as a national crisis. Speaking from his Midtown Manhattan office, the governor said vapes could be as harmful as traditional tobacco products.
“Vaping is dangerous. Period,” Cuomo said on Sunday. “No one can say long-term use of vaping—where you’re inhaling steam and chemicals deep into your lungs—is healthy.”
The governor’s concern may’ve been spurred by news of vape-related illnesses. The Times says the United States is facing an unusual outbreak ‘of a severe lung disease linked to vaping.’ Its symptoms include shortness of breath, vomiting, fever and fatigue. Hundreds of people have been hospitalized; six have died.
In New York state alone, at last 64 people have been diagnosed with vape-related lung disease.
While none of the fatalities can be definitively linked to e-cigarette abuse, physicians believe vaping may’ve been a trigger or significant contributor.
“It is undeniable that vaping companies are deliberately using flavors like bubble gum, Captain Crunch and cotton candy to get young people hooked on e-cigarettes — it’s a public health crisis and it ends today,” Cuomo said after the ban was passed on Tuesday. “New York is not waiting for the federal government to act, and by banning flavored e-cigarettes we are safeguarding the public health and helping prevent countless young people from forming costly, unhealthy and potentially deadly life-long habits.”
Although New York is targeting the kinds of flavored e-cigarettes most likely to appeal to young users, it’s allowing some concessions. Neither tobacco- nor menthol-flavored products will be covered by the emergency order, as the governor’s office believes vaping may be beneficial for people trying to quit smoking.
However, Cuomo’s office did stipulate that they may eventually ban menthol-flavored nicotine pods, too.
The decision not to crack down on menthol drew immediate condemnation from the American Lung Association, which accused Cuomo of missing “an opportunity to take decisive action.”
“While today’s announcement was well-intentioned, it will drive our youth to use menthol-flavored products in even greater numbers,” said ALA President Harold Wimmer.
Wimmer, says the Times, asked the New York Legislature to independently pursue a ban on all flavored tobacco products.
Juul Labs—an e-cigarette manufacturer which holds the lion’s share of the U.S. market—says it’s reviewing Cuomo’s announcement. Surprisingly, Juul has voiced its support for the Trump administration’s decision to tackle flavored vaping products on the federal level, saying it appreciates “the need for aggressive category-wide action on all flavored products.”