E-cigarette flavor ban in the state budget, local vape shops concerned

State News

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — The e-cigarette flavor ban is back in play, making its way into the New York State 2021 budget. Vape shops across the region are again worried what this is going to mean for business.

“This is a deal to get Governor (Andrew) Cuomo a piece of legislation that he wants into the budget, during a crisis situation,” says Ken Gregory, who runs a number of vape shops across the region.

He says the bill in the budget would ban all e-cigarette flavors with the exception of tobacco flavors. ​ ​”They are banning a safer alternative to combustible cigarettes,” he says.​ ​

Last year, a proposed vaping ban was nearly put into place until it went to the courts. A judge then issued a temporary restraining order on enforcement.

Gregory says now, Governor Cuomo’s actions change all that. ​”This move, slipping it in the budget, kind of get around having to put a stand-alone bill or have an open debate,” he says.​ ​

Governor Cuomo has said in the past vaping, especially among teens, is a health crisis. Health officials claimed vaping was linked to deaths in the state. Research did conclude some of those deaths were due to black-market Vitamin E acetate THC products, and the CDC eventually relaxed their warnings. Cuomo says by banning flavored e-cigarettes, he’s promoting public health.

In a statement, Senator Pam Helming (R-54th District) says, “The flavored vape ban will hurt small businesses and drive consumers to purchase dangerous black market products or travel to other states. It does nothing to rein in big tobacco, in fact its being referred to as the JUUL Amendment. This is smoke and mirrors. Adults are capable of making their own decisions. We can all agree that those who sell tobacco or vape products to minors should be punished to the full extent of the law.”

“We’re disappointed that Governor Cuomo used a global health emergency to force the New York legislature to pass a ban on flavored vapor products through backroom negotiations and without holding a single hearing or debate,” said Tony Abboud, Executive Director of the Vapor Technology Association.

“Last year, a New York Appellate Court put a stop to the Administration’s unconstitutional attempt to pursue its flavor ban agenda. Now, through this questionable process, New York is taking actions that will only drive a widespread return to smoking and usher in a dangerous new black market,” says Abboud.

Gregory says the fight is not over, and is speaking with attorneys to see what possibilites are ahead. ​”It’s going to come down to the language of the bill, and any potential lawsuits that happen afterwards, he says.

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