As concern continues to grow over vaping and the use of e-cigarettes, we’ve seen officials on the federal level begin to consider a ban on flavored e-cigarettes. For residents in Nassau County and New York, local officials are considering their own legislation against vaping.
Senator Kevin Thomas announced last week that he is filing legislation to ban refillable liquid used in e-cigarette cartridges.
“E-cigarettes have been branded as less deadly than regular cigarettes,” Thomas said. “In the past couple of months, we have seen that is not true. The growing number of cases of lung damage, ER visits and deaths that have occurred because of young adults smoking them [are proof of their danger]. I’m trying to put a stop to this because they don’t have the proper ingredient list. We don’t know what’s in them.”
The concern, in Thomas’ eyes, is that young adults have been targeted in advertisements of fruit-flavored vape and that it needs to be regulated so they can stop the epidemic.
“We have 41 confirmed cases in New York of individuals being taken to the ER because they smoked these e-cigarettes,” said Thomas. “A mom from my constituency in Bethpage came to my office to talk about what is going on with her son. She found vaping instruments under his mattress and he’s been coughing a lot. She was looking to me for help on how to tackle this problem.”
The U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed that there were more than 450 cases of lung-related illnesses that were associated with vaping, specifically with e-cigarettes that have nicotine and THC. There have been at least six deaths that are related to e-cigarettes in 2019.
When asked why the flavored e-cigarette restriction bill has not been assigned to a committee, Presiding Officer Richard Nicolello said that they are attempting to determine what local action can and should proceed.
“We have already passed legislation making it illegal to sell vaping or tobacco products to anyone under 21 years old,” said Nicolello. “We are also trying to get the administration to step up its enforcement of existing laws. We will continue to work with all involved to protect the health of the public, especially our young people, in a manner that is consistent with state and federal law and mindful of the rights of adults.”
One of the major targets of vaping law suits is JUUL. According to a study, one JUUL pod contains 20 cigarettes worth of nicotine. This fact alone has Legislator Arnold Drucker worried about letting these companies go further without regulation. This concern led to Drucker creating a bill in waiting that would restrict the sale of flavored e-cigarettes throughout Nassau County. As of the time of publishing, it has not been assigned to a committee.
“The science alone is still so new,” said Drucker. “There’s still synthetic products in these vape liquids that could be very harmful. It’s not just the nicotine.”
Gregory Conley, president of the American Vaping Association, a nonprofit that advocates for sensible regulation of vaping products, said in a statement that Thomas and Drucker’s bills are an “attack on harm-reduction technology” that could lead those who used vaping to quit smoking regular cigarettes to go back to doing so or even resorting to black market items.
“Senator Thomas’ bill won’t do a thing to stop drug dealers from purchasing blank cartridges from China and filling them in their basements,” Conley said.
“All of this comes with a dire warning that tightly restricting the manufacture and sale of flavored nicotine products will likely contribute to a similar outbreak of illness in the not so distant future,” said Alex Clark, legislative coordinator at Consumer Advocates for Smoke Free Alternatives Association.
“For Drucker’s bill, contrary to the talking points of anti-harm-reduction activists, there is a great deal of evidence showing that flavors play a critical role in helping smokers switch. Such an overarching flavor ban will result in more cigarette smoking, less quitting, and several small businesses shutting their doors throughout Nassau County.”
The Garden City Public School District is equally on point with its policy regarding vaping, which currently reads, “Due to the health hazards associated with smoking, and in accordance with federal and state law, the board of education prohibits smoking and all other tobacco use in all school district buildings, on school grounds, and in any vehicle used to transport children or personnel. Smoking or tobacco use is also prohibited within 100 feet of all school entrances, exits and outdoor areas, except where there is a residence or residential property. The board also prohibits the use of e-cigarettes in these locations.” In addition to addressing the use of these types of devices in black and white, the district has been proactive in highlighting the dangers of vaping, according to Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Kusum Sinha.
“The district has taken an active role in educating our school community about the dangers surrounding vaping. We’ve formed a committee to examine ways in which we can continue to combat the vaping problem and have also added discussions about its harmful effects into the health curriculum,” Sinha said. “Furthermore, we are encouraged to see that our own students have been vocal in educating their peers about the dangers of vaping, as well.”
Dave Gil de Rubio also contributed additional reporting to this story.