Cuomo announces emergency executive action to ban sale of flavored e-cigarettes

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E-cigarette flavors such as menthol and tobacco will not be banned based on recommendations from New York Health Commissioner Howard Zucker, as cigarette smokers often rely on e-cigarettes to wean off cigarettes when "nothing else" has worked, Cuomo said.

The governor said New York's top health official would convene an emergency meeting with the state's public health council this week, to ban the products.

"We will review today's announcement as we strongly agree with the need for aggressive category-wide action on flavored products", said spokesman Austin Finan. "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", he added.

"Names like, "Bubblegum", "Cotton Candy", "Captain Crunch", Cuomo said, "these are obviously targeted to young people and highly effective at targeting young people". "These regulations will help curb this risky trend and will further safeguard the health of all New Yorkers, especially among underage youths", New York State Department of Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker said.

At least six confirmed deaths have been connected to vaping across the USA - in addition to more than 450 cases of reported lung issues. The council can issue emergency regulations that could go into effect within two weeks. "At a minimum, it is addicting young people to nicotine at a very early age".

He said he worries New York's potential regulations will drive more vapers to the black market and/or online vendors - where he notes that merchants can't see their customers while checking their ages.

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"I'm not relying or waiting on the federal government", said Cuomo. NY has always been a leader in reducing tobacco use.

Health officials haven't pinned down the exact cause of the illnesses or one particular product.

Cuomo said many vaping flavours - including bubblegum and cotton candy - appear meant to appeal to younger smokers. Yet his press release also says "these efforts follow a series of actions taken by the Governor aimed at addressing the growing use of vaping products, which have come under national scrutiny following a rising number of cases of vaping-associated respiratory illnesses". They have said people should avoid inhaling vitamin E acetate, an ingredient found in some vaping products.

According to data from the state health department, almost 40 per cent of high school seniors and 27 per cent of high school students overall in the state use e-cigarettes.

Other states are expected to consider their own restrictions on e-cigarettes. High school use went from 10.5 per cent in 2014 to 27.4 per cent in 2018.

"E-cigarettes have been implicated as a key indicator in the upward trend of the use of tobacco products among youths in recent years".

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