NY Ban on Flavored E-Cigarettes on Hold

On Tuesday, September 24, New York became the first state to place a legislative ban on the sale of flavored vape devices, but that ban has now been placed on hold by appellate court.
In response to the recent emergence of critical and in some cases fatal vaping-related illnesses, Andrew Cuomo, the governor of New York, enacted a ban on the sale of flavored e-cigarettes and raised the legal age to purchase all nicotine products from 18 to 21. Because the ban is emergency legislation, it will need to be renewed after 90 days.
However, on Thursday, October 3, an appellate court placed a hold on Governor Cuomo’s order until at least Friday, October 18. The fate of the ban will be decided in an upcoming court battle. This will not be the first legal battle over vaping products, as multiple lawsuits have been filed in other jurisdictions. These cases have precedent in suits against opioid manufacturers that were decided earlier this year.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that more than three-and-a-half million American minors now use e-cigarettes, with 97% of users aged 12 to 17 choosing flavored products. Federal health officials have linked vaping to at least 450 cases of lung disease and 18 confirmed deaths, many occuring to minors. Moreover, according to the NY health department, the use of JUULS among high-school students increased from 10.5% in 2014 to 27.4% in 2018. Governor Cuomo of New York cited the escalating use of flavored e-cigarettes when he announced his ban.
New York is the first state to enact a ban on all flavored e-cigarettes. Other states, such as Michigan, have passed bans only on specific flavors. Dr. Howard Zucker, the NY State Health Commissioner, said “Make no mistake: this is a public health emergency that demands immediate action to help ensure the well-being of our children, and we’re confident that once the court hears our argument [it] will agree.”
Connecticut’s Department of Public Health (CT DPH) has added “unexplained vaping related injuries,” to its list of reportable diseases and, along with New York, increased the legal age required to purchase e-cigarettes.
Mrs. Hosterman, nurse practitioner, and Mr. McKibben, dean of community life, will be meeting with each grade in October to provide information and encourage students to seek help with addiction at the Health Center. Mrs. Hosterman said, “Students interested in quitting vaping or [with] questions, [should] come to the Health Center. We really want to be a resource for students.” A variety of supportive measures will be available to assist students with quitting, including nicotine replacements such as gum and patches, medication, and counseling.
Mr. McKibben encouraged students to take personal responsibility for their health and the health of friends and reaffirmed the support systems and resources available on campus. Mr. McKibben explained, “If you have a problem,…we can provide assistance to help you address the problem. But it has to begin with individual acknowledgment [of] the problem, whether it be by you as a user or by your peers.”
“Communicate with each other about the dangers and risks. Encourage friends to seek help at the Health Center,” Mrs. Hosterman said. “We are always there to help students. We all like positive feedback. Give words of encouragement to a friend who has quit or [is] trying to quit!”
These steps from the school administration build upon previous efforts to educate community members about the dangers of these products, including an all-school presentation from the Truth Initiative, an organization dedicated to spreading awareness about the risks of vaping and smoking.
“I think that vaping could be as harmful to students as alcohol and narcotics,” said Sandrine Brien ’20, a four-year Senior. “Since the epidemic has only recently emerged,…additional local campaigning and education would be beneficial in alleviating the problem. If kids see how detrimental vaping can be to their health, they are more likely to seek help.”
In addition to the resources available in the Health Center, students can access resources by texting “DITCHJUUL” to 88-709 for help quitting. A free quitSTART app also offers teenagers customized tips and inspiration.