New York governor moves to enact statewide flavored e-cig ban

E-cigarette (Getty Images)

ALBANY, N.Y. — New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is pushing to enact a statewide ban on the sale of flavored e-cigarettes amid growing health concerns connected to vaping, especially among young people.

The Democrat announced Sunday, Sept. 15 that the state health commissioner would be making a recommendation to the state Public Health and Health Planning Council, which could then issue emergency regulations that would go into effect as soon as they are voted on and start being enforced in as soon as two weeks, following a short grace period for retailers, officials said.

In announcing the action, Cuomo sharply criticized the flavors that are for sale, like bubble gum and cotton candy.

“These are obviously targeted to young people and highly effective at targeting young people,” he said.

Leaders with the biggest player in the industry, Juul Labs Inc., said they were reviewing the announcement, but agreed with the need for action.

The ban would not impact tobacco- and menthol-flavored e-cigarettes, but Cuomo said the Department of Health would continue evaluating and that could change.

Cuomo signed legislation earlier in 2019 raising the statewide smoking age to 21, and earlier in September signed a mandate that requires state anti-tobacco campaigns to also include vaping.

Vaping is also under a federal spotlight , as health authorities look into hundreds of breathing illnesses reported in people who have used e-cigarettes and other vaping devices.

In his first public comments on vaping, President Donald Trump proposed a similar federal ban.

The FDA has been able to ban vaping flavors since 2016, but hasn’t taken the step, with officials looking into whether flavors could help cigarette smokers to quit.

The global market is estimated to have a value of as much as $11 billion. The industry has spent a lot of money in states around the country to lobby against state-level flavored e-cigarette bans, in states including Hawaii, California, Maine, and Connecticut.

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer earlier in September ordered that the state’s health department come out with emergency rules to prohibit flavored e-cigarette sales.

Juul leaders reiterated Sunday the agreeable stance the company had taken following President Trump’s proposal.

In an emailed statement, spokesman Austin Finan said, “We strongly agree with the need for aggressive category-wide action on flavored products,” and “will fully comply with local laws and the final FDA policy when effective.”

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