An "emergency executive action" has been put in place to ban the sale of flavored e-cigarettes in New York.
The order will advance legislation aiming to eliminate "deceptive marketing practices of e-cigarettes to underage users and raises the purchasing age of e-cigarettes from 18 to 21 years old," Cuomo's office said in a statement announcing the move on Sunday, Sept. 15.
The action comes after a sixth vaping-related death was announced on Tuesday, Sept. 10, in Kansas.
Cuomo directed State Police and the Department of Health to immediately partner to ramp up enforcement efforts against retailers who sell to underage youth, with the possibility of criminal penalties. Cuomo also announced he will advance legislation to ban deceptive marketing of e-cigarettes to teens and children.
"New York is confronting this crisis head-on and today we are taking another nation-leading step to combat a public health emergency," Cuomo said. "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."
Late last week, on Thursday, Sept. 12, Cuomo signed an executive order that directs state agencies to deploy education awareness programs on vaping and include vaping and e-cigarette prevention and cessation measures in their educational programs and employee training.
The order also directs DOH to work with the State Education Department to immediately develop and deploy these measures for school districts to incorporate into their curriculums. In addition, Cuomo signed legislation to expand current school-based programs and marketing campaigns aimed at reducing tobacco use to include e-cigarettes and liquid nicotine.
On July 16, Cuomo signed legislation to raise the age to purchase tobacco and electronic cigarette products from 18 to 21, effective Nov.13, 2019.
"The dramatic increase in use of e-cigarettes by youth is driven in large part by flavored e-liquids, and flavors are a principal reason that youth initiate and maintain e-cigarette use," Cuomo's office said.
According to Department of Health data, nearly 40 percent of 12th-grade students and 27 percent of high school students in New York State are now using e-cigarettes, and this increase is largely driven by flavored e-liquids. High school use in 2018 (27.4 percent) was 160 percent higher than it was in 2014 (10.5 percent).
"E-cigarettes have been implicated as a key indicator in the upward trend of the use of tobacco products among youths in recent years," New York State Department of Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker said. "These regulations will help curb this dangerous trend and will further safeguard the health of all New Yorkers, especially among underage youths."
The Trump administration announced Wednesday, Sept. 11, that it plans to ban all flavored e-cigarettes.
“The Trump Administration is making it clear that we intend to clear the market of flavored e-cigarettes to reverse the deeply concerning epidemic of youth e-cigarette use that is impacting children, families, schools, and communities,” Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said in a statement. “We will not stand idly by as these products become an on-ramp to combustible cigarettes or nicotine addiction for a generation of youth.”
State health departments are reporting at 483 confirmed or suspected cases in 39 states plus the U.S. Virgin Islands, a jump from the 450 cases reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Friday, Sept. 6, when it issued a warning against using vaping/e-cigarettes products.
The CDC recommends people stay away from vaping products until they can pinpoint the cause of the illness.
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