NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) – New York became the first state to ban the sale of flavored e-cigarettes Tuesday, a move that comes as federal health officials investigate a mysterious surge of severe breathing illnesses linked to vaping.
The vote by the state Public Health and Health Planning Council means the ban, which covers all flavored cigarettes and other vaping products except for menthol and tobacco flavors, goes into effect immediately. Retailers will have two weeks to remove merchandise from store shelves.
The ban came as health officials in California confirm a seventh person has died in the U.S. from lung disease related to vaping.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced the emergency executive action on Sunday to help crackdown on the vaping crisis.
“Names like bubble gum, cotton candy, Cap’n Crunch … these are obviously targeted to young people and highly effective at targeting young people,” Cuomo said.
According to data from the state health department, nearly 40 percent of high school seniors and 27 percent of high school students overall in the state use e-cigarettes. Use among high-school students went from 10.5 percent in 2014 to 27.4 in 2018.
American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network Managing Director of Government Relations Bill Sherman said the menthol exemption makes the rule weak.
Sherman released the following statement:
“We are extremely disappointed in the vote by the Council to exempt menthol from this emergency rule. This exemption makes no sense and will allow the tobacco industry to continue to lure our kids with menthol e-cigarettes. At least 64 percent of the youth who report using e-cigarettes, use menthol e-cigarettes because menthol and mint are candy flavors to our kids. We now ask the legislature to act urgently to restrict the sale of all flavored tobacco products including menthol cigarettes. We need comprehensive actions to stop tobacco companies from luring our kids into addiction with menthol cigarettes and other flavored tobacco products like cigars and hookah.”
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The ban could be enforced next month.
Earlier this month, President Donald Trump said his administration was trying to ban all non-tobacco flavored vaping products from the market, but Cuomo said he’s not willing to wait for action from the federal government.
“I’ve been disappointed time and time and time again. The political influence of these companies is not to be underestimated. These are very powerful business interests. If you listen to their spokespeople, they threaten the president politically with the power of their user, customer base, which is now addicted, so I’m not relying or waiting for the federal government,” Cuomo said.
Watch: What You Need To Know About Vaping-Related Illnesses:
Several organizations released statements after Cuomo’s announcement, urging stronger action.
New York becomes the first state to enact the ban. Michigan approved a ban that includes menthol, but not tobacco flavor, but rules for enactment have not yet been put into place. Other states are also considering bans.
The statewide smoking age is going up to 21, after Cuomo signed legislation earlier this year. He also recently signed a mandate that requires state anti-tobacco campaigns to also include vaping.
(© Copyright 2019 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)