Yonkers has become the first city in the state to ban the sale of flavored e-cigarettes, a move that comes just after New York passed its ban on those vaping products.
Mayor Mike Spano signed the local ordinance Wednesday as the state investigates 74 cases of mysterious lung illnesses linked to vaping. The legislation, passed by the city council in a 7-0 vote, will go into effect Oct. 1.
Mayor Mike Spano signing legislation that bans flavored e-cigarettes in the city. Sept. 18, 2019 (Photo: Tiffany Cusaac-Smith)
“We’re hopeful that we’ve sent a very, very strong message that this is something that the rest of the community and the rest of the country should take up,” Spano said.
At the news conference, the mayor applauded Gov. Andrew Cuomo on his emergency ban but noted the Yonkers ban limits a “potential challenge by the courts or being rolled back over time.
“It was my opinion that… we should immortalize this in our city code,” Spano said. “It’s something that won’t disappear when the governor disappears… It’s in our code. It’s the law of Yonkers. And that’s why we did it.”
Cuomo had proposed the emergency ban Sunday, citing surging use among young people. On Tuesday, a key Department of Health panel met to implement his ban.
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Cuomo’s ban targets any flavored e-cigarette products other than tobacco or menthol, state documents show. The emergency regulation enacted Tuesday will expire unless it’s renewed.
According to data from the state health department, nearly 40% of high school seniors and 27% of high school students overall in the state use e-cigarettes. Use among high-school students went from 10.5% in 2014 to 27.4% in 2018.
“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,” Cuomo said Tuesday.
RELATED: Yonkers mayor calls for ban on flavored e-cigarettes amid growing concerns of vaping
Still, some have opposed the ban on the described vaping products, saying that they are a life-saving alternative to traditional cigarettes.
“We’re banning a product that isn’t killing anybody. It’s saving lives; not just a few lives, it’s saving a lot of them,” said Spike Babaian, an official with New York State Vapor Association, a pro-vaping group.
Nationwide, health officials are also investigating hundreds of cases of serious breathing illnesses in people who use e-cigarettes and other vaping devices. They have identified 380 confirmed and probable cases in 36 states and one territory, including several deaths, according to The Associated Press.
President Donald Trump has proposed a federal ban on flavored e-cigarettes and vaping products.
Writer David Robinson and The Associated Press contributed to this story.
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