Cuomo Moves to Ban E-Cigarettes in New York

Vape Pen

After six deaths in the United States were linked to e-cigarettes, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo issued an executive order banning flavored e-cigarettes.

“New York is confronting this crisis head-on and today we are taking another nation-leading step to combat a public health emergency,” Cuomo said. “Manufacturers of fruit and candy-flavored e-cigarettes are intentionally and recklessly targeting young people, and today we’re taking action to put an end to it.” He added that many flavors were designed to be marketed towards minors. 

“We don’t know what a lot of these substances are and you have an alarming rate of illness,” he added.

New York’s Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker said there have been 41 patients with lung illnesses in the state caused by vaping. While there have only been six deaths tied directly to vaping, there are 380 cases of illness across 36 states linked to vaping.

The ban does not need legislative approval to go into effect. Zucker will call on New York’s Public Health and Health Planning Council to begin the ban which will likely go into effect in two weeks.

Once it goes into effect, only regular tobacco and menthol products will remain.

Elected officials across the country have called for a flavored e-cigarettes ban; Michigan has already done so. 

Vaping had been explicitly marketed as a “safer” alternative to traditional tobacco. 

Oleg MaryAces, Director of Education for Lock and Key Remedies, which sells cannabis vapes, oils, and topicals, explained that the individuals who died, and many who are in the hospital, are there due to counterfeit THC cartridges that added an excessive amount of Vitamin E to the oil so that air bubbles move slower and the product thereby looked more potent.

“It’s the tip of the iceberg,” he said regarding the vaping industry’s issues.

While not directly linked to the deaths so far, MaryAces feels there is merit in Cuomo’s ban of flavored e-cigarettes since many among the ill are minors attracted by the sweet flavors such as mango or berry. There are several issues with artificial flavoring including elements that can cause cancer if heated.

According to MaryAces, along with Vitamin E, counterfeit cartridges might contain an excess of mold, heavy metals, and pesticides.

MaryAces said his company had spent a great deal of time ensuring that their vapes did not contain harmful chemicals such as pesticides, micro bacteria, or mercury. However, he said many in the industry were not previously interested in such issues.

“It’s a big, big mess there,” he said.

MaryAces believes that if the cannabis industry were better regulated, then there would not have been an issue caused by counterfeit vape cartridges. 

“If you regulated it, we wouldn’t be having these deaths,” he said.

Emerald contributor since September 2019

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