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New York state bans sales of flavored e-cigarettes

It's also stepping up efforts to curb the marketing of e-cigs to teens.
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REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

New York isn't waiting for the federal government to take action on teen vaping. Governor Andrew Cuomo has announced an "emergency executive action" that will ban sales of flavored e-cigarettes. The move will see the state Department of Health's Commissioner hold an urgent meeting with the Public Health and Health Planning Council to implement the ban. E-cig makers and stores are "intentionally and recklessly" trying to court a younger audience, Cuomo claimed, and this would theoretically put a stop to the behavior.

The state is simultaneously stepping up enforcement against retailers who sell to underage buyers, including undercover investigations that will have underage volunteers trying to buy e-cigs. He's also moving forward legislation that aims to ban "deceptive marketing" of e-cigs to teens and kids. The moves come on top of previous crackdowns, including the passing of a law raising the minimum buying age from 18 to 21 (due to take effect November 13th), an investigation into vaping companies and an executive order mandating awareness programs for schools.

Cuomo pointed to Department of Health data showing steep climbs in e-cig use among teens. About 27 percent of high schoolers were using e-cigarettes, or 160 percent more than they were in 2014, according to officials. The governor also referenced a 2017 survey showing that 19 percent of state teens tried e-cigs due to flavors, with 27 percent citing flavor as a reason to keep smoking. He went on to accuse companies of falsely claiming e-cigs are safe, noting that early studies suggested they could lead to cardiovascular and respiratory problems.

It's not certain if other states will follow suit, but this is still a significant blow to e-cig producers. They've taken efforts to curb teen vaping, such as Juul's stricter screening, but that clearly isn't enough in New York's eyes. They'll have no choice but to sell 'plain' e-cigs in one of the most populous states in the country, and they risk further legal action if New York feels their sales tactics are still too inviting to teens. The tide appears to be turning against the e-cig industry, and it might not have much choice but to honor ever-tougher restrictions.

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