ALBANY – Ordering e-cigarettes online and selling flavored nicotine vaping products would both be banned under a proposal released Sunday by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo.
Only registered retailers — not individuals — could order e-cigarettes online, by phone or by mail, under Cuomo’s proposal to the State Legislature. Cuomo would also ban vaping advertising he said is aimed at youths promoting flavors including cotton candy and bubble gum. In addition, the state Health Department would be authorized to ban certain carrier oils used in vaping products that have been blamed for respiratory ailments related to vaping. The measure would mirror a law that already prohibits the sale of traditional tobacco products over the internet, by phone and mail as way to make sure they are properly taxed and not purchased by minors.
In November, officials confirmed a second vaping-related death in the state, blaming it on a mysterious illness that has made more than 2,000 New Yorkers sick in 2019. Days later, the New York City Council banned flavored e-cigarettes and vaping liquid flavors other than tobacco.
Youths are especially vulnerable to vaping advertising that uses references to sex, independence and rebellion, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Between 2011 and 2014, the agency said, youths reporting e-cigarette use in the prior 30 days increased to 4%, from less than 1%, among middle school students. In high school, students reporting using e-cigarettes in the prior 30 days increased to 13%, from less than 2% in the same time period, according to the CDC.
“About 2.4 million middle and high school students were current (past 30-day) users of electronic cigarettes, or e-cigarettes, in 2014,” the federal agency stated. “Most e-cigarettes contain nicotine, which causes addiction, may harm brain development, and could lead to continued tobacco product use among youth.”
The American Vaping Association, sponsored by vaping companies, said the dire warnings are based on too little data about deaths and illnesses that have been blamed on vaping products, most of which are illegally sold cartridges and other items.
"Recent lung illnesses and deaths are clearly linked to illicit THC products, not store-bought nicotine vaping products, but Gov. Cuomo can't even bring himself to mention black market products because it would be politically inconvenient,” Gregory Conley, president of the association, said in an interview Sunday morning. “Flavors in vaping products have been shown to be effective at helping smokers quit. On the other hand, tobacco flavors are actually linked to less successful quitting, so banning all flavors but tobacco only makes sense if your goal is to protect cigarette markets."
Conley added that "prohibition does not work."
“For decades young people have disobeyed laws banning or restricting alcohol, marijuana, and tobacco," he said. "In the era where drugs are being sold on Snapchat, it is the height of boomer cluelessness to think that bans will do anything but create new, dangerous black markets."
Cuomo, however, called vaping a public health crisis.
“The problem is made worse by unscrupulous vaping companies who are targeting young people with candy flavored products like Cotton Candy and Bubble-gum and other marketing ploys,” Cuomo said. “We’re using every tool at our disposal to keep help children safe and stop them from forming an unhealthy and potentially deadly lifelong addiction.”
The proposal will be part of Cuomo’s State of the State Address scheduled for Jan. 8 that starts the legislative session.