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New York moves to enact statewide flavoured e-cig ban

Published:Sunday | September 15, 2019 | 3:00 PM
In this Sept. 9, 2019 file photo, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo speaks at a news conference about vaping and health concerns in New York. Cuomo says he's directing state health officials to ban the sale of flavored e-cigarettes, citing the risk of young people getting addicted to nicotine.

NEW YORK (AP) — New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is pushing to enact a statewide ban on the sale of flavoured e-cigarettes amid growing health concerns connected to vaping, especially among young people.

The Democrat announced today that the state health commissioner would be making a recommendation this week to the state Public Health and Health Planning Council. The council can 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 criticised the flavours 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.

The biggest player in the industry, Juul Labs Inc., said it was reviewing the announcement, but agreed with the need for action.

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

Cuomo signed legislation earlier this year raising the statewide smoking age to 21, and earlier this month 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 last week.

The FDA has been able to ban vaping flavours since 2016, but hasn't taken the step, with officials looking into whether flavours 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 flavoured e-cigarette bans, in states including Hawaii, California, Maine and Connecticut.

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer earlier this month ordered that state's health department to come out with emergency rules to prohibit flavoured e-cigarette sales.

Juul reiterated today the agreeable stance it had taken following Trump's proposal.

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