New York to ban flavored e-cigarettes amid vaping health 'crisis'

New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo says he is taking an “emergency executive action” to outlaw the sale of fruit and candy-flavored e-cigarettes in the state, amid the outbreak of mysterious vaping-related lung illnesses and as the products have become highly popular and addictive among young people.

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"New York is confronting this crisis head-on and today we are taking another nation-leading step to combat a public health emergency," Cuomo said in a statement released on Sunday.

"Manufacturers of fruit and candy-flavored e-cigarettes are intentionally and recklessly targeting young people, and today we're taking action to put an end to it. At the same time, unscrupulous stores are knowingly selling vaping products to underage youth - those retailers are now on notice that we are ramping up enforcement and they will be caught and prosecuted," he said.

New York state police will now team up with the Department of Health to conduct undercover investigations across the state and retailers caught selling vaping products or tobacco to underage kids and teens will face criminal penalties in addition to civil penalties, according to the governor’s office. The executive order is slated to go into effect by Oct. 4, the Cuomo administration said.

This comes as the specific cause of the recent vaping-related illness outbreak is still being investigated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. There have been six vaping-related deaths to date, according to Fox News.

Michigan became the first state to ban the sale of flavored e-cigarettes last week. North Carolina is currently suing Juul, the largest e-cigarette company, and eight of its competitors for "deceptive and unfair [marketing] practices."

Juul said in a statement it was reviewing New York’s ban and that it agrees on what it called a need for “aggressive category-wide action,” adding that it would “fully comply” with all local laws.

Sales for e-cigarettes raked in more than $2.3 billion in revenue in 2018, Forbes reported. 

Cuomo’s effort to expedite the ban on flavored e-cigarettes comes days after President Trump announced a similar push to outlaw similar vaping products at the federal level. New York would become the second state to carry out a ban after Michigan.

Trump tweeted on Friday to clarify that he "likes the vaping alternative to smoking cigarettes," but wants the government to crack down on counterfeits and sales to minors.