New York State Bans Sale of Flavored E-Cigarettes, Including Menthol, Effective Oct. 4
An emergency regulation approved by the Public Health and Health Planning Council on Sept. 17 prohibits the sale of flavored vapor products, with the exception of menthol and tobacco, in an effort to keep minors from becoming addicted to nicotine through e-cigarette use.
The interdiction comes as vaping has faced increased scrutiny over a recent outbreak of lung injuries related to e-cigarette use and renewed concerns about soaring rates of youth usage.
“This is such an important issue. It is evolving, it is changing every day and we need to tackle this as fast as possible,” said New York Health Commissioner Howard Zucker. “We saw this with tobacco, we saw this decades ago, we don’t need to repeat history.”
The regulation passed after New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced an emergency executive action to ban the sale of flavored e-cigarettes in New York, and asked Zucker to convene an emergency meeting of the PHHPC. On Sept. 26, Cuomo announced that the PHHPC would vote on whether menthol should also be included in the ban.
Enforcement began on Oct. 4, and violators will face fines of up to $2,000. Cuomo said the crackdown would be “aggressive” and start immediately.
E-cigarettes have become popular among minors in recent years, spurring concerns over the ways that e-cigarette companies are marketing their products towards youth. In the last four years, the percentage of high school e-cigarette users has increased 160%, and 27% of high school students vape, according to the 2018 National Youth Tobacco Survey.
The ban will ensure that flavors such as bubble gum, Captain Crunch and mint chocolate are taken off the shelves.
“The law is clear,” said Cuomo. “You cannot sell these products to people under 18 years old. It is also patently obvious… that people under 18 are purchasing these products.”
But New York retailers who are licensed to sell e-cigarette products view the ban as unfairly targeting stores that follow the law and sell only to adults. According to Jim Calvin, president of the New York Association of Convenience Stores, the ban will drive e-cigarette users to buy products from unlicensed, out-of-state or online sellers.
“The state executive order will make flavored e-cigarettes disappear from our stores but it won’t make flavored e-cigarettes disappear from New York,” said Calvin. “What we’re doing is chasing the business to the unlicensed, unregulated, untaxed side of the street.”
New York has documented 101 patients suffering from severe lung-related illnesses after using vape products, according to the New York Department of Health. Across the country, there are more than 805 similar cases, and 12 confirmed deaths. 16% of these patients are under 18. It is unknown what exactly is causing these illnesses.
“Make no mistake,” Cuomo said in a statement. “This is a fight for the very future of this state and for the health of all New Yorkers, and we will continue using every tool at our disposal to protect young people.”
The ban comes amid a flurry of actions by Cuomo aimed at limiting the power of e-cigarette companies, including launching investigations into the companies that produce vaping substances and raising the minimum age for purchasing e-cigarette products from 18 to 21, effective Nov. 13 of this year.
Cuomo has also promised to advance legislation next year aimed at preventing e-cigarette companies from marketing towards youth.
A New York court denied a request by the vaping industry to delay the ban earlier this week.
WHAT THE LEFT IS SAYING: New York Sen. Chuck Schumer: “I have called for banning flavored e-cigarettes for a long time. It’s past time that the FDA moves to take these kid-friendly products off the shelves. It’s good that these public health questions have finally reached the administration.”
I have called for banning flavored e-cigarettes for a long time.
It’s past time that the FDA moves to take these kid-friendly products off the shelves.
It’s good that these public health questions have finally reached the administration. pic.twitter.com/evwt2v4CJ3
— Chuck Schumer (@SenSchumer) September 12, 2019
WHAT THE RIGHT IS SAYING: President Donald Trump: “While I like the Vaping alternative to Cigarettes, we need to make sure this alternative is SAFE for ALL! Let’s get counterfeits off the market, and keep young children from Vaping!”
While I like the Vaping alternative to Cigarettes, we need to make sure this alternative is SAFE for ALL! Let’s get counterfeits off the market, and keep young children from Vaping!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 13, 2019