NEW YORK (Reuters) – New York Governor Andrew Cuomo proposed legislation on Monday to ban flavored e-cigarettes statewide in an effort to protect young people from the unknown consequences of vaping.
“Common sense says if you don’t know what you’re smoking, don’t smoke it,” Cuomo told reporters at a news conference. “And right now, we don’t know what you’re smoking in a lot of these vaping substances,” he said.
The governor’s announcement comes after a nationwide surge in mysterious, serious lung illnesses possibly related to vaping, which has also been linked to five deaths in the United States.
U.S. public health officials on Friday announced that they are investigating about 450 cases of the illness across 33 states and one U.S. territory, including 41 cases in the state of New York. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said they have not linked the illnesses to any specific e-cigarette product or ingredient.
If the proposed legislation were to become law, New York would become the second state to ban flavored e-cigarettes, following Michigan, which passed a ban on Wednesday.
While e-cigarettes are promoted as a product to help smokers cut down or quit, health officials have expressed concerns that many e-cigarette flavors are designed to get a new generation hooked on nicotine.
Many of the reported illnesses involved vaping products, including cannabis products, containing vitamin E acetate, an oil derived from vitamin E that is potentially dangerous if inhaled,
Cuomo, sitting beside New York Commissioner of Health, Dr. Howard Zucker, also announced that the state’s Department of Health was issuing subpoenas to three e-cigarette companies, Honey Cut Labs LLC, Floraplex Terpenes and Mass Terpenes LLC. The Department of Health obtained samples from the three companies and found high levels of vitamin E acetate in their products.
Cuomo said stores that sell e-cigarettes will be required to disclose potential health consequences.
“It’s quite simple: Don’t do it,” Cuomo said. “Don’t do it because we don’t know if it’s safe.”
(Reporting by Matthew Lavietes in New York; editing by Bill Berkrot)