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Gov. Andrew Cuomo is banning the sale of flavoured electronic cigarettes in New York through an emergency executive action.
The move comes amid a high-profile investigation into vaping-related illnesses in New York.
Cuomo announced the executive action Sunday, citing state health officials’ efforts to curb the increasing number of young people using vape products. He also accused e-cigarette makers of marketing flavors that are intended to get children addicted to nicotine.
“Manufacturers of fruit and candy-flavoured e-cigarettes are intentionally and recklessly targeting young people, and today we’re taking action to put an end to it,” Cuomo said.
State police and the Department of Health will also be expanding enforcement efforts against retailers who sell e-cigarettes to underage youth, according to the governor’s office, citing complaints about illegal sales to minors.
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“At the same time, unscrupulous stores are knowingly selling vaping products to underage youth: those retailers are now on notice that we are ramping up enforcement and they will be caught and prosecuted,” Cuomo said.
New York lawmakers earlier this year raised the age to buy tobacco and e-cigarette products to 21 from 18, effective Nov. 13. And there will be a renewed focus on the raised age as part of upcoming enforcement efforts, which enlist underage youth to attempt to buy tobacco and e-cigarette products, Cuomo said.
The crackdown is part of a rapidly growing investigation into health risks tied to vaping, including 60 cases of severe lung illnesses in New York and nearly 400 total across the country.
The vaping industry has criticised the Cuomo administration’s anti-vaping actions, in part because the illnesses have so far been linked to black-market products. They’ve stated that the e-cigarette products are sold and marketed to help adults quit smoking traditional cigarettes.
Earlier this month, federal and state researchers said they believed the vaping illnesses are connected to a vitamin E acetate found in some illicit cannabis vaping products. They’ve warned people against vaping nicotine or marijuana until a cause is determined.
During a press conference Sunday in Manhattan, Cuomo also compared the e-cigarette industry to the companies accused of creating and fuelling the opioid epidemic.
“I don’t think it’s an outrageous parallel to say look at the work we’re doing now with the opioid companies,” he said. “They sold pain medication that they knew was highly addictive, that they circulated, they advertised, they distributed. It created hydrocodone, oxycontin, it created addictions in the users, which then provided their business relationship with more customers.”
Cuomo asserted vaping companies took a page from the same opioid industry playbook of getting a customer addicted.
“That tobacco, cigarettes and now these vaping e-cigarettes, it’s still nicotine. And nicotine is what’s addictive. Even putting aside the other products that might be added – THC, Vitamin E – the nicotine in and of itself is the addictive drug and that is what they are selling,” Cuomo said.
The executive actions followed other steps New York has taken against vaping businesses.
For example, vape retail shops are now required to post signs warning people about vaping health risks in New York.
All of New York’s anti-smoking campaigns will soon have to include information on e-cigarettes and liquid nicotine under a pair of measures signed Thursday by Cuomo.
Cuomo also previously announced plans to pursue legislation to ban flavoured e-cigarettes during the next legislative session in January.
Earlier this month, Michigan announced plans to become the first state in the nation to ban flavoured vape products in a move Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said is aimed at protecting youth, USA TODAY Network reported.
The ban, which will be imposed by the state Department of Health and Human Services through direction from Whitmer, prohibits online and retail sales of flavoured nicotine vaping products.
Source: USA Today
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