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Queens Chronicle

Council passes ban on flavored vaping

City aims to make it harder for kids to obtain tastier smoking products

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Posted: Wednesday, November 27, 2019 10:30 am | Updated: 12:54 pm, Thu Dec 5, 2019.

Just two weeks after a statewide law changing the age to purchase tobacco to 21, New York became the first city in the United States to ban flavored vaping products.

On Tuesday, the City Council voted to seal the fate of flavored vaping in the five boroughs, approving the ban by an overwhelming 42-2 vote.

The day before, the City Council Health Committee unanimously voted in favor of banning flavored e-cig products 7 to 0.

“We’re celebrating a big victory today while the work continues behind the scenes,” said Councilman Mark Levin (D-Manhattan) in a statement issued Tuesday. Levin was the bill’s main sponsor and serves as the chair of the Health Committee.

“This will not stop every kid who’s determined to get flavored e-cigarettes from doing so, [but] it will make it a lot tougher,” he said. “This will not end it, but I am confident it will reduce the prevalence of vaping.”

Speaker Corey Johnson (D-Manhattan) spoke about being a smoker.

“I smoked a pack a day for over 10 years,” he said. “My message is that no one should ever start smoking. I wish I never started smoking. I wish my family never started smoking.”

The bill had 31 sponsors, including Queens Councilmembers Peter Koo (D-Flushing), Danny Dromm (D-Jackson Heights), Adrienne Adams (D-Jamaica), Francisco Moya (D-Corona), Costa Constantinides (D-Astoria), Barry Grodenchik (D-Oakland Gardens), Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside), Karen Koslowitz (D-Forest Hills) and Bob Holden (D-Middle Village).

“With one in six high school students reportedly using e-cigarettes, it is very important for us to ban the number-one marketing tool companies have to hook them on nicotine,” said Holden.

New York City stores will no longer be able to sell flavored e-cigarettes or the liquids that go into them beginning next July.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than five million middle and high school students used e-cigarettes over a 30-day period in 2019.

Some believe the ban will be a first step in decreasing that number. “Passage of this law is considered of utmost importance to turn the corner on the public health crisis,” said Phil Konigsberg, community advocate for the Bayside Smokefree Housing Alliance. “The addiction of middle and high school teens to nicotine — caused by the tobacco and vaping industry.”

Others believe that other companion bills need to be established in order to keep city youth safe from the effects of cigarettes.

“Today’s vote to ban flavored e-cigarettes is only half the job,” said Andre Richardson, campaign manager of Flavors Hook Kids NYC. “The Council must also restrict the sale of menthol. Nearly nine out of ten black smokers smoke menthol cigarettes because Big Tobacco targeted our communities with an easier-to-addict, harder-to-quit product.”

Konigsberg agrees.

“I am hopeful a statewide ban on the sale of all flavored cigarettes will be passed in early 2020 and [am] counting on the support of my state representatives to lead the way,” he said.

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