NYC to Ban All Flavored E-cigarettes Amid Health Concerns

November 27, 2019 Updated: November 27, 2019

A landmark vote to ban all flavoured electronic cigarettes and most e-liquid flavors used for vaping in New York has been approved by the New York City Council amid rising concern over its health effects and youth vaping.

The vote, which prohibits all flavors except for tobacco, was approved 42-2 on Nov. 26, and came just days after the second death in New York caused by a vaping-related illness. Gov. Andrew Cuomo previously raised concerns that the products were causing nicotine addiction among young people.

Backers of the ban said they were acting to protect young people whose use of e-cigarettes has surged in recent years, while Democratic New York City Council member Mark Levine said there is “no higher obligation” than protecting the health of kids.

“Now, I want to acknowledge that we have listened intently to adults who have told us that e-cigarettes have enabled them to quit smoking,” Levine added. “And that’s in part why we will continue to allow the sale of vaping devices and tobacco flavored liquids.”

After the vote was approved on Tuesday, supporters of the vaping industry jeered and threw dollar bills from the balcony of the City Council chamber.

Levine later tweeted: “In the face of intense resistance from Big Tobacco and their allies, @NYCCouncil just voted, 42-2, to ban the sale of flavored e-cigarettes. No longer will kids in this city be lured into nicotine addiction by the easy availability of flavored vapes. So proud of my colleagues.”

From 2017 to 2018, e-cigarette use—defined by use on at least one day in the past 30 days—by high school students increased 78 percent, from 11.7 to 20.8 percent, accounting for a troubling 3.05 million American high school students using e-cigarettes in 2018. In addition, the proportion of current e-cigarette users in high school who reported use on 20 days or more in the past 30-day period increased from 20 percent to 27.7 percent between 2017 and 2018, according to the Food and Drug Administration.

Democratic Mayor Bill de Blasio has said he supports the ban and will either sign the legislation into law or let it take effect automatically.

Matthew L. Myers, President of Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, a leading advocacy organization working to reduce tobacco use, said in a news release that the vote is a “big win for kids.”

“This legislation is a critical step to help end the worsening youth e-cigarette epidemic and stop e-cigarettes from addicting a generation of kids,” Myers said.

Myers continued to urge the New York City Council to now “tackle the serious problem of menthol cigarettes” by the end of the year.

“It’s time to stop tobacco companies from targeting and addicting kids with flavored products once and for all,” he added.

Over 40 people in the United States have died from a mysterious respiratory illness associated with vaping, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Earlier this month, U.S. officials reported the discovery of vitamin E acetate—used as an additive, most notably as a thickening agent in THC-containing e-cigarette, or vaping, products—in all lung samples from 29 patients who were tested across 10 states.

CDC has called vitamin E acetate a “chemical of concern” and recommended that the substance not be added to e-cigarettes, or vaping products, while the investigation is ongoing.

Reuters and the Associated Press contributed to this report.