Vaping industry: New York bans flavored e-liquids

New York on Tuesday became the first state to ban the sale of flavored e-cigarettes, a move that comes as federal health officials investigate a mysterious wave of serious respiratory illnesses linked to vaping.

The vote by the state Board of Public Health and Health Planning means the ban, which covers flavored e-cigarettes and other vaping products except menthol and tobacco flavors, comes into effect immediately.

Retailers will have two weeks to remove the merchandise from store shelves.

Inam Rehman, director of Jubilee Vape & Smoke Inc., shows off a flavored vaping solution his store sells, Monday, Sept. 16, 2019, in New York City. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is pushing to enact a statewide ban on the sale of flavored e-cigarettes amid growing vaping health concerns. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)

Governor Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, had proposed the emergency ban on Sunday, citing growing use among young people.

According to data from the state health department, nearly 40% of high school students and 27% of high school students statewide use e-cigarettes. Consumption among high school students increased from 10.5% in 2014 to 27.4% in 2018.

Cuomo pointed to vaping flavors like chewing gum and cotton candy that he said seemed aimed at young people.

“We don’t really know the health consequences of these devices,” he told public radio on Monday.

Vape shop owners say they are considering a legal challenge to the new regulations, which they say should have gone to lawmakers for hearings, debate and a vote.

Several spoke at the meeting to urge council members to reject the ban.

Inam Rehman, director of Jubilee Vape & Smoke Inc., vapes while discussing New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s efforts to enact a statewide ban on the sale of flavored e-cigarettes amid growing health concerns, Monday, Sept. 16, 2019, in New York City. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)

Mike Kruger owns two vape shops in the Albany area and said the ban could force hundreds of businesses like his to close.

He said smokers looking to quit will have fewer options under the ban, which could lead to an increase in the use of traditional tobacco products.

As for the respiratory illnesses, Kruger said he believes they are the result of people buying vaping liquid on the black market, not the items he sells.

“We bypass the legislative process,” he said of the ban. Kruger added that many adults crave the flavored versions. He himself prefers blue raspberry. “Vaping has been around for 12 years. And now this.

Keith Mautner, who owns a vape shop in Queens and uses the products himself, estimates flavored e-cigarettes make up 95% of his business.

He said heads of state should have cracked down on manufacturers if they were concerned about products used by teenagers.

“That’s the problem, manufacturers. It’s not us,” he said.

The menthol exemption has been criticized by some health groups, who fear young people will switch to this variety. It includes all types of flavored vaping products, including disposable and refillable devices.

The state health department said it would investigate whether menthol should be added and a report would be sent to Cuomo in two weeks.

Juul Labs, Inc., the company with the largest footprint in the industry, said it agrees with the need for action in the flavored e-cigarette sector and will comply with all regulations national and federal finals.

New York becomes the first state to enact the ban. Michigan has approved a ban that includes menthol but not tobacco flavor, but the rules for enactment have yet to be put in place. Other states are also considering bans.

The statewide smoking age is raised to 21, after Cuomo signed legislation earlier this year.

He also recently signed a mandate that requires state anti-tobacco campaigns to also include vaping.

The emergency regulations enacted on Tuesday will expire in 90 days unless renewed. Cuomo has proposed legislation that would put the ban into state law, eliminating the need to renew the ban.

Across the country, health officials are also investigating hundreds of cases of serious respiratory illnesses in people who use e-cigarettes and other vaping devices.

They identified 380 confirmed and probable cases in 36 states and one territory, including six deaths. President Donald Trump has proposed a federal ban on flavored e-cigarettes and vaping products.

The FDA has been able to ban vaping flavors since 2016 but has yet to take the plunge.

The global market is estimated at $11 billion.

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Aron M. Newman