Vaping businesses and their advocates are preparing for another battle over the future of their industry after Gov. Andrew Cuomo reignited his push against flavored electronic cigarettes.
Cuomo enacted an emergency ban on flavored vaping products last year after a rash of vaping-related illnesses and deaths across the country. However, a state judge officially struck down the ban two weeks ago, ruling Cuomo didn’t have the authority.
He’ll now try to pass legislation to make the ban official.
“Let’s just pass a new law, let’s pass it quickly and let’s ban flavored e-cigarettes,” Cuomo said during his 2021 budget address Tuesday.
Joel Giambra, who represents Buffalo company Demand Vape, said Wednesday that a ban is unwarranted given new research.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed last month that most of the vaping-related illnesses, which has killed four people in New York alone, are caused by black market vaping products that contain THC.
“Our state lawmakers and the governor must recognize that commercially-made nicotine vaping products have not been identified as the cause of this recent outbreak,” said Giambra, a former Erie County executive.
Cuomo appears to be repositioning his ban as protection for youth. The National Institutes of Health says teen usage of vaping products is on the rise, as 37% percent of high school seniors reported using a vaping product in 2018, compared to only 28% in 2017.
Cuomo’s ban specifically targets vaping products with flavors, arguing vaping companies have targeted children and teens with flavors like bubble gum and cotton candy.
In a 2017 state survey of 15- to 17-year-olds who use vaping products, 19% said flavors were the reason they first tried an e-cigarette and 27% said flavors were the reason they kept using.
Demand Vape co-owner Jon Glauser said many adults are also attracted to the flavors, adding the taste convinces many of them to switch from smoking tobacco combustible cigarettes to using e-cigarettes.
“So if you have a product that scientifically we know causes less harm than combustible tobacco cigarettes, why would you want to put it on the same playing field to make it equally as attractive and not give someone that extra incentive to switch to it?” he said.
Giambra and Glauser said they support Cuomo’s other proposals to keep vaping products away from those under 21, like banning vaping-related ads targeted to youth.
“Are kids using these products? Absolutely, and it needs to be addressed,” Glauser said. “Not at the expense of adults, but we need to do it reasonably, we need to executive on it, and we do want to work with the legislature and the governor to make sure that happens.”
Giambra said an analysis of the vaping industry’s economic benefit in New York will be released next week. The Vapor Technology Association has previously estimated there are 4,416 jobs related to vaping in the state and a direct economic output of nearly $449 million.