This week, the New York vaping ban became a reality as Governor Andrew Cuomo announced a halt to sales of flavored e-cigarettes. The emergency executive order will take effect on October 4, 2019.

The ban will remain in place until more permanent legislation can be passed. Lawmakers will design any such legislation to raise the purchasing age minimum in the state from 18 to 21-years-old. Any new law will also target deceptive marketing practices aimed at underage users.

“New York is confronting this crisis head-on and today we are taking another nation-leading step to combat a public health emergency,” Governor Cuomo said in a statement. “Manufacturers of fruit and candy-flavored e-cigarettes are intentionally and recklessly targeting young people, and today we’re taking action to put an end to it. At the same time, unscrupulous stores are knowingly selling vaping products to underage youth—those retailers are now on notice that we are ramping up enforcement and they will be caught and prosecuted.”

New York joins Michigan, the first state to ban these products. Some localities, including San Francisco, have already banned them.

New York Vaping Ban

Cuomo’s office reports that the New York State Department of Health and state police will collaborate under the Adolescent Tobacco Use Prevention Act as they conduct undercover investigations. Criminal penalties as well as civil fines may apply to any retailers violating the ban with sales under the executive order.

The New York vaping ban from Cuomo comes as a mysterious illness caused mostly by black market THC products is triggering panic in some lawmakers. Cuomo’s announcement indicated that “we’re on our own” at the state level. Cuomo also commented that vaping industry lobbyists are to blame, because “their money can buy Washington.”

Meanwhile, researchers look for more clues as to what is causing the illness. The Trump administration has indicated that a federal ban is not out of the question. “We may very well have to do something very, very strong about it,” said the president in a meeting with press.

Like other issues at the federal level, this one has a partisan spin on it. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar argued to the media that the administration must take action, since the Obama administration “failed” in allowing the products on the market.

Vaping Bans and Harm Reduction

Unfortunately, a New York vaping ban on most e-cigarette products is likely to cause problems from a harm reduction perspective. Authorities in the UK and Canada, where these products are already regulated more carefully, insist that for many, vaping is a safe, effective way to quit smoking.

For example, recent research confirms that vaping e-cigarettes can impair vascular function. However, it is still less harmful than smoking. Researchers have also established a clear connection between vaping and quitting smoking.