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Vaping deaths: New York bans flavoured e-cigarettes after ‘epidemic’

Manufacturers ‘intentionally and recklessly targeting young people,’ says Andrew Cuomo

Zamira Rahim
Monday 16 September 2019 13:55 BST
Fears are growing over the safety of e-cigarettes
Fears are growing over the safety of e-cigarettes (Getty iStock)

New York will ban flavoured e-cigarettes after officials linked a nationwide spate of deadly lung illnesses to vaping.

Andrew Cuomo, the state’s governor, said that Howard Zucker, New York’s health commissioner, would recommend a formal ban during an emergency meeting of health officials.

“Manufacturers of fruit and candy-flavoured e-cigarettes are intentionally and recklessly targeting young people, and today we’re taking action to put an end to it,” he said on Sunday.

“These are obviously targeted to young people and highly effective at targeting young people.”

The emergency regulations, issued by New York’s public health and health planning council, are likely to go into effect immediately.

More than 450 cases of lung illness potentially linked to flavoured e-cigarettes have been reported in the US, according to the Centres of Disease Control and Prevention.

At least six confirmed deaths have been caused by the illnesses.

Researchers are still trying to understand what causes patients to contract the illness. Other than vaping in general, a further common link is yet to be found.

Melodi Pirzada, chief paediatric pulmonologist at NYU Winthrop Hospital in New York, described the outbreak as ”becoming an epidemic”.

“Something is very wrong,” she said, according to The New York Times.

Officials have warned the public to avoid inhaling vitamin E acetate, an ingredient found in some vaping products.

A federal investigation into vaping-related lung illnesses is ongoing and has not identified the cause of the outbreak – though a number of patients have reported using e-cigarettes with cannabis-related products, such as THC.

Kevin Burns, Juul’s CEO, warned last month that people who do not already smoke should not use his company’s products.

“Don’t start using nicotine if you don’t have a pre-existing relationship with nicotine,” he said. “Don’t use the product.”

If New York bans flavoured e-cigarettes it will only be the second state to do so.

Michigan banned the products earlier this month. On Wednesday the Trump administration announced hopes for passing a federal ban, which would apply nationally.

According to New York’s health department nearly 40 per cent of high school seniors in the state, as well as 27 per cent of high school students overall, use e-cigarettes.

The state’s ban does not affect tobacco and menthol flavoured e-cigarettes, a move which has attracted criticism.

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Cuomo “had the opportunity to take decisive action, but instead left menthol e-cigarettes on the marketplace,” said Harold Wimmer, president and CEO of the American Lung Association.

“While today’s announcement was well-intentioned, it will drive our youth to use menthol flavoured products in even greater numbers.”

Additional reporting by agencies

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