New York has officially begun its experiment with banning the sale of flavored e-cigarettes. The new regulations take effect today, September 18, and will remain in force for 90 days. The New York Department of Health is giving retailers a 14-day grace period, beginning today, to pull flavored e-liquid products from their shelves. Beginning October 4, regulators will start visiting vape stores to enforce the ban. Stores violated the New York ban on flavored e-cigs and e-liquids will face a $2,000 fine per violation.
The new emergency regulations were voted into effect by the state Public Health and Health Planning Council after Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced the ban earlier this week. The new rules risk shutting down hundreds of vape retailers across the state. There has no far been no conclusive evidence linking the recent spate of vape-linked illnesses and deaths to flavored e-cigarette products.
Gov. Cuomo Blames Flavored Vapes for Mysterious Lung Illnesses and Deaths
Undeniably, a public health crisis is emerging around vaping. Across 36 states and one U.S. territory, there have been nearly 400 confirmed cases of a mysterious clinical syndrome impacting the lungs. And on Tuesday, California health officials confirmed the seventh vape-related death.
Since the outbreak began earlier this summer, two federal agencies have been trying to figure out its cause. Both the Centers for Disease Control and the Food and Drug Administration are currently conducting investigations. But officials from both agencies say they haven’t been able to pinpoint a definitive cause or any clear connection between the cases. Some cases involve unregulated cannabis vape cartridges, while others reportedly involve nicotine-based e-cigarettes.
So far, the only lead has come from health officials in New York, who believe a common vape additive, vitamin E acetate, may be the culprit. Vitamin E acetate is a cutting agent typically found in unlicensed, illicit vape products.
Despite the absence of any clear answers, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is placing the blame on flavored e-cigarettes and e-liquids. And despite the fact that the mysterious lung illnesses are effecting all age groups, Cuomo is focusing on vaping among teens and young people.
Shop Owners Say New York’s Vape Ban Will Create New Black Market
The nationwide health crisis linked to vaping has given politicians and policymakers firepower to go after teen vaping. Gov. Cuomo and the Department of Health claim that the rate of vaping among high school students—27 percent in New York—is directly related to the availability of flavored e-cigs. There’s little evidence supporting such an assumption. And there’s no guarantee that a ban on flavored vape products will do anything to prevent more cases of vape-linked sickness.
But a ban is guaranteed to create a new black market for vape products. And along the way, it threatens to put hundreds of vape shops across the state out of business. “It’s a knee-jerk reaction, it’s lack of information, it’s ignorance,” said Andrew Ribble, who owns Liquid Cloud Lounge in Rochester, New York.
New York’s ban is especially concerning, considering that officials have linked many of the cases of lung illnesses to counterfeit and illicit vape products. But health officials don’t seem to be making a distinction between regulated and regulated products, or cannabis and tobacco vapes. “You’ve created a black market. And we already know when you have a black market and you’re making products that are unregulated, you have deaths,” Ribble said.