New York has banned the sale of flavored vape products after seven people died and hundreds more have been sickened in a nationwide outbreak of vaping-related lung illness.
The emergency regulation was approved by the state's health department at a meeting on Tuesday, and officials said it will go into effect immediately. It's the first state where such a ban will take effect, and President Trump has said he's interested in banning flavored vapes nationally.
A similar ban was also approved in Michigan and is expected to go into effect in coming weeks.
At Tuesday's meeting, the department's commissioner, Dr. Howard Zucker, said nearly 40% of high school seniors used e-cigarettes — a surge that health officials believe is driven by flavored vape liquid. The popularity of vaping had set back anti-tobacco campaigns within the state by 18 years, he added.
"It is undeniable that vaping companies are deliberately using flavors like bubblegum, Captain Crunch, and cotton candy to get young people hooked on e-cigarettes — it's a public health crisis and it ends today," New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a statement. "New York is not waiting for the federal government to act, and by banning flavored e-cigarettes we are safeguarding the public health and helping prevent countless young people from forming costly, unhealthy and potentially deadly life-long habits."
Experts are still working to determine exactly what in e-cigarettes is causing the lung illness, which has mostly affected young people. While they investigate, the CDC is recommending that people stop vaping.
And while e-cigarettes were intended to help adult cigarette smokers wean off tobacco, 3.6 million teens around the US are now vaping.
Zucker said that given the number of teens vaping and the 74 cases of the lung illness reported in New York, the emergency regulation was necessary.
"The data demonstrates the need for urgent action," he said. "We cannot wait for the legislative session to begin, which is in January. We cannot wait for federal action."
The ban goes into effect immediately, he added, and does not cover adult use of menthol or unflavored e-cigarettes. Zimmer plans to evaluate menthol-flavored liquid and offer a recommendation within 14 days.
Sellers will have a two-week grace period to stop stocking the products before enforcement begins. After that, violators of the ban face a fine of up to $2,000 for each unit of flavored vape liquid.
Dr. Howard Zucker’s name was misstated in an earlier version of this post.