Flavored e-cig ban punishes smokers trying to quit cigarettes, Vaping group president says

Some vaping supporters are up-in-arms after New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said he is taking an “emergency executive action” to outlaw the sale of fruit and candy-flavored e-cigarettes in the state.

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Vape shop owners are worried a Trump administration proposal to ban all non-tobacco flavors of e-cigarettes could kneecap the $6 billion-a-year industry.

The Food and Drug Administration is currently finalizing new rules that would ban fruity flavors, as well as flavors like mint and menthol, and remove them from the market within 30 days.

The proposed ban comes amid accusations that e-cigarette makers have marketed to underage customers as well as concerns about 450 cases of lung illnesses including six deaths the CDC is investigating for possible connections to vaping.

"We are looking at vaping very strongly."

- President Trump

"It's very dangerous," President Trump said last week. "Children have died, people have died. ... We're going to have some very strong rules, regulations, and more important, I think we're going to have some very important information come out very shortly. And we'll be reporting that over the next couple of weeks."

On Monday, the American Vaping Association President Greg Conley told FOX Business' Neil Cavuto that he thinks a ban is a wrong move.

"We know that nicotine vaping products are far less hazardous than smoking," Conley said. "Even the FDA notes that they can be very helpful and a great benefit to public health of adult smokers who switch."

"So, I think just going straight to prohibition is a bad idea."

- Greg Conley, American Vaping Association president

When proposing the ban, Cuomo cited fruit and candy-flavored e-cigarettes that he claimed were "intentionally and recklessly targeting young people."

However, Conley disputes that claim, saying a majority of people vaping are adults trying to quit smoking.

"We know that the most popular flavor among adult switchers [and] it's not tobacco," Conley said. "It's not menthol. It's fruit and sweet flavor. So Governor Cuomo can pick out whatever ludicrously named flavor that represents 0.01 percent of the market."

"But the fact is that the fruits and sweet flavors that he is banning? They are actually the most successful products at getting smokers off of cigarettes."

- Greg Conley, American Vaping Association president

"The industry did not target youth," Conley insisted. "We are at about 3 million plus adult smokers who have bettered their health by switching to vaping products. The vast majority of them are using flavors like the products ... named."

On top of the benefits Conley claims vaping has, he said banning it isn't going to work.

"We need to keep these products available to smokers so they can use them to quit," Conley said. "It's a bad policy."

"And for President Trump, it could actually mean not being re-elected in 2020 because people are going to be disaffected if they flavors get removed from the market and blame Trump."

- Greg Conley, American Vaping Association president

Cavuto questioned Conley's claim of how it will affect voters, asking "Are you saying that these 14 million folks who might have been open to voting for Donald Trump wouldn't because he removed their vaping products?"

Conley cited an Americans for Tax Reform op-ed that vapers overwhelmingly support Trump, reportedly because the Obama administration treated vaping poorly.

"When President Trump only won some states by 10,000, 15,000 votes? If flavors are banned at the national level, that will result in people being disaffected and staying home," Conley maintained.

Cavuto asked him if that was a threat.

"It's not a threat. It's just reality."

- Greg Conley, American Vaping Association president

Conley said the real responsibility rests on parents to make sure their kids don't get these products.

"As long as the policy does not substantially impact the ability of adults to access these products and get off cigarettes, we’re 100 percent open," Conley said.


FOX Business' Jeanette Settembre and James Leggate contributed to this report.