New York Declares ‘Emergency’ Ban on Flavored E-Cigarettes
(Bloomberg) -- New York imposed an statewide “emergency” ban on flavored e-cigarettes amid a rising national epidemic of serious respiratory illness -- and several deaths -- linked to vaping.
“Vaping is dangerous,” Governor Andrew Cuomo said at a news conference. “It’s addicting millions of young people to nicotine at a very early age.”
Jason Conwall, a spokesman for the governor, said the ban would cover thousands of flavors of e-cigarettes and vaping liquid like mango, bubble gum and cotton candy. Mint, a popular flavor among young people, would be included in the ban. However, menthol and tobacco flavors, which are used mostly by adults, wouldn’t be.
Almost 400 cases of respiratory ailments in three dozen states have been linked to vaping, and at least six people have died. Health officials haven’t pinned down the exact cause of the illnesses or one particular product.
Vaping is embroiled in controversy as it has attracted millions of users, both for tobacco and cannabis. Advocates say it’s less harmful than smoking and can be useful in quitting tobacco products -- a view held widely in Europe.
The recent spate of illnesses has underscored what opponents say are its dangers: that nicotine remains highly addictive, is unsafe especially for young people and that the products generally have been allowed to be sold widely with little regulation.
Michigan this month became the first state to issue a limited ban on flavored e-cigarettes. Several others, including California and Massachusetts, are considering bans.
Last week, the White House proposed a nationwide ban, saying President Donald Trump would propose a specific legislation in several weeks also aimed at cutting youth consumption of flavored vaping products.
Not Far Enough
The American Lung Association criticized Cuomo’s plan, saying it didn’t go far enough.
“Unfortunately the action did not apply to menthol flavored e-cigarettes, which with mint flavored e-cigarettes are favored by the majority of high school students,” Harold Wimmer, President and CEO of the American Lung Association, said in a press release.
Cuomo said the state didn’t ban menthol out of consideration for adult smokers who haven’t been able to quit menthol cigarettes.
“They tried the lozenges,” Cuomo said. “They tried the medications. They tried everything. Nothing else worked -- a very limited pool -- and they’re trying vaping. The menthol flavor for the vaping helps menthol cigarette smokers.”
The ban would take effect by early October after Cuomo confers with state health officials. The governor plans fuller legislation against vaping in January, his spokesman said.
Juul Labs Inc., the largest and most visible e-cigarette maker, said in a statement it was reviewing New York’s ban and that it agrees on what it called a need for “aggressive category-wide action.”
The company has faced criticism for targeting young people with its discreet, popular device. Juul, which is under increasing scrutiny nationwide, said it would “fully comply” with all local laws.
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