Legislation to ban flavored vaping products in New York state isn’t ready to pass just yet, lawmakers said this week, as Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Democrats continue to negotiate the measure as part of this year’s state budget.
Negotiations are ongoing between Cuomo, the state Senate, and Assembly on legislation that would ban flavored e-cigarettes, lawmakers said, but so far there’s no deal.
Assemblywoman Linda B. Rosenthal, D-Manhattan, sponsors the bill in the Assembly and said Cuomo and lawmakers have been sidetracked lately with a potential outbreak of the novel coronavirus and discussions on the $178 billion state budget.
“In the middle of this is coronavirus and the budget, so some of those are distractions from that particular issue but it’s upper most on my mind and a lot of Assembly members who want to get this done,” Rosenthal said.
Rosenthal said Democrats are currently working on a package of bills to more strictly regulate the sale of e-cigarettes, or vaping products, in New York.
State Sen. Brad Hoylman, D-Manhattan, is the lead sponsor of legislation in the Senate to ban the sale of flavored e-cigarettes. He said he hopes lawmakers can pass a bill on the issue by the end of the month, but that he expects something to happen by June at the latest.
“I expect we’ll be passing all these bills before the end of the session,” Hoylman said. “I hope we do it before April 1 as either a standalone bill or as part of the budget. It just has to get done. This is a problem that’s not abating.”
Cuomo made the legislation a priority this year after first moving administratively to ban the sale of flavored vaping products in New York. A panel within the state Department of Health approved Cuomo’s request to ban the sale of those products in September.
That didn’t last long. A state judge in the Albany area struck down Cuomo’s ban on flavored vaping products in January after a legal challenge from industry representatives.
The judge, Acting Supreme Court Justice Catherine Cholakis, wrote in her decision that a ban on flavored e-cigarettes would have to be done by the Legislature, not through executive action.
Cuomo, shortly after, called on the Legislature to approve a bill that would ban the sale of flavored vaping products. Democrats already have legislation teed up to do so, but it hasn’t made it to the floor in either chamber just yet.
Lawmakers have proposed the ban on flavored e-cigarettes as a way to dissuade children and young adults from taking up the habit, saying the long-term health effects of vaping are still unknown. Vaping can also lead to an addiction to nicotine, they’ve said.
Cuomo became more involved in the issue last year when several individuals in the U.S. were diagnosed with respiratory conditions, which the Centers for Disease Control have linked to illegal vaping products infused with THC, the active ingredient in cannabis.
Representatives from the vaping industry have criticized Cuomo and lawmakers for coming down on legal flavored e-cigarettes, saying those devices have not been associated with the string of illnesses.
It’s possible the measure will be folded into this year’s state budget, which is often a mishmash of state spending and policy items. The budget is due at the end of March.