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Cuomo Once Again Presses For Flavored Vaping Ban

Kevin P. Coughlin
Office of N.Y. Gov. Andrew Cuomo
Governor Andrew Cuomo, surrounded by national leaders in the fight to combat vaping, launches a new campaign to ban all flavored nicotine vaping products, including menthol flavors, and to restrict vaping advertisements aimed at youth.

Governor Andrew Cuomo is once again pressing for a ban on flavored tobacco-based vaping products, saying he hopes a law is passed in the next month.

Cuomo and his health commissioner, Dr. Howard Zucker, tried to ban the products in New York last fall, after a widespread illness associated with vaping that has killed 60 people, including four in New York. But the emergency order by a state panel was stopped in court, after the vaping industry sued. 

Now Cuomo has proposed a ban, along with comprehensive regulations, in his budget plan. He says it’s estimated that 40% of 12th graders are vaping, and 27% of all high school students, a 160% increase in the U.S. in just four years.

“This is literally a matter of life and death, literally every day, more kids are getting addicted,” Cuomo said. “One way or the other, by April 1 this has to become law, and there is no excuse for it.”

The measure would end the sale of all flavored electronic cigarettes, including menthol, and discontinue all advertisements, including social media ads that Cuomo says are targeted toward teens. The bill also bans the sale of vaping products at stores that include pharmacies, as well as online sales, where he says teens can often circumvent age requirements to get the products.

The bill would also outlaw the use of so-called carrier oils in vaping products, including vitamin E acetate and castor oil. Those additions to vaping products are believed to be connected to the vaping sickness epidemic.

Matthew Myers, president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, says after 30 years of measures to curb the use of combustible cigarettes, the state was finally on its way to have the first generation of nonsmokers. But he says the growing use of tobacco-based vaping products have upended that goal.

“The kids that they are addicting are the kids who never would have smoked,” said Myers, who accused the e-cigarette makers of “using the exact same tactics” that regular cigarette manufacturers used to appeal to children, including advertising aimed at young people.

The vaping industry maintains that the products, including the flavored varieties, are designed for adults, many of whom are trying to quit smoking regular cigarettes.

The sponsors of similar legislation in the Assembly and Senate to ban flavored e-cigarettes say they agree with the governor. Senator Brad Hoylman and Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal say they would like to see the bills passed even before the budget is done.  

Karen has covered state government and politics for New York State Public Radio, a network of 10 New York and Connecticut stations, since 1990. She is also a regular contributor to the statewide public television program about New York State government, New York Now. She appears on the reporter’s roundtable segment, and interviews newsmakers.