Vaping Flavorless in New York After Statewide Ban

Last week, Governor Andrew Cuomo instituted a ban on flavored e-cigarettes (yes, that includes Juuls).

The exterior of a shop displays an illuminated JUUL sign, one of the most popular electronic cigarette brands. (Photo by Alex Tran)

“Oh, maybe I should chill,” Brian Dela Rosa said after hearing about New York State’s move to ban flavored e-cigarettes last week, amid a rise in serious vaping-related illnesses.

Dela Rosa, a Stern sophomore, is one of many students who may think twice the next time they go to take a hit of their Juul — or come away dissatisfied by the lack of flavor — in coming weeks. This is because Governor Andrew Cuomo issued a ban on flavored e-cigarettes last Friday, approved by the Public Health and Health Planning Council on Sunday, that will go into effect on Oct. 4. Cuomo said he expects the ban to become law once the next legislative session begins in January. If it does not, it will need to be approved 90 days after it goes into effect to continue to be in place.

Across the country, almost 500 cases of serious lung illnesses have been linked to vaping, five of which resulted in deaths. In a press release, Cuomo emphasized the role flavored vapes play in encouraging teen vaping, which hit a record high in 2018.

“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,” Cuomo said.

Boxes of JUUL e-cigarette starter packs are stacked together. (Photo by Alex Tran)
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However, this ban may affect few e-cig users at NYU. The ban targets vaping companies with physical retail stores in New York, fining them $2,000 if they violate it, but Relx — a rising e-cigarette brand similar to Juul — is headquartered overseas. 

“Under the assumption that Relx isn’t banned because it’s e-commerce, I feel that [the ban] would draw Relx more customers,” Stern student Richard Cao said. “They do have a very similar product, and [students] are looking for more alternatives to smoke, so they would choose Relx.”

Stern senior Emily Liu said she thinks that because only flavored e-cigarettes were banned, the ban may have a smaller impact than Cuomo had hoped.

“I don’t really think [the ban] will have a big effect on me because I only use mint or menthol anyways,” Liu said. “So it won’t really affect my usage.”

However, some students have already had a change of heart after the ban — like Stern sophomore Tony Ye.

“The recent news kind of changed my point of view, after the ban […] I’m not gonna buy the product anymore,” Ye said. “I think I’ll just quit.”

Email Wendy Wang at [email protected]

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