NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced the first vaping death of a New Yorker on Tuesday.
The victim was a 17-year-old boy from the Bronx who succumbed to his vaping-related lung illness at Montefiore Hospital last week.
“This vaping is a public health crisis. It is affecting our young people. It has been marketed to young people,” Cuomo said. “The federal government should act.”
With a state action held up in court, the governor’s call for federal action was answered by Sen. Charles Schumer, who is proposing a bipartisan ban on flavored e-cigarette products, CBS2’s Carolyn Gusoff reports.
“One is called vanilla milk and cookies. One is called candy king. Do you think they’re aiming those flavors at 65-year-olds? I doubt it,” Schumer said.
Schumer joined students who are also campaigning to change young attitudes about vaping.
“I actually heard someone go, don’t do that, bro, it’s bad for you, and that was outside of a school setting. That really shows that people are absorbing this mindset,” said Aryaman Bahri, the student government president at Great Neck South High School.
Students are taking on the health crisis.
“Once you start, it’s extremely difficult [to stop]. I have some friends that have started vaping and have made multiple attempts to stop and they can’t,” one student said.
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The principal says it’s positive peer pressure that’s working.
“It’s gone down tremendously,” Principal Christopher Gitz said. “They’re very scared. They’re scared for their health.”
The vaping industry says its flavors help adult users quit smoking more harmful traditional cigarettes.
Amid the debate, nearby Northwell Health has seen 30 cases of lung illness in just two months.
“From mild symptoms to severe acute life-threatening … respiratory failure requiring life support,” said Dr. Sameer Khanijo.
Schumer says he supports lawsuits aimed at e-cigarette makers but they would take years to wind through the courts. The legislation could be introduced by the end of the year.
According to the governor’s office, there have been 110 reports of vaping-associated respiratory illness in New York State and more than 1,000 nationwide.