ITHACA, N.Y. — Effective June 1, all sales of flavored vaporizer products in New York state will be banned after legislation in this year’s budget put the final say on a months’ long battle between vaping enthusiasts and health advocates.

Advocates for the legislation claim it as a victory in curbing the growing amount of youth addicted to nicotine products. Ted Schiele, Director of Tobacco Free Tompkins, an initiative of the county health department, told the Ithaca Voice he thinks the ban will have a noticeable positive effect.

“Marketers would not have built brands on flavors with pet names if there was not evidence that they attracted youth,” Schiele said in a statement.

The legislation also increases penalties for selling tobacco products to minors, prohibits the sale of cigarettes in stores with pharmacies and a number of other measures.

The changes were vehemently opposed by organizations like the New York State Vapor Association and other industry-connected groups. Their chief claims are that vaping products are safer alternatives to cigarettes and are helpful in helping individuals who are already addicted to quit.

State senator Tom O’Mara (R-Big Flats) wasn’t a fan of including the legislative proposal in the budget and didn’t refute the claim of the vaping lobby.

“This is one of many policy issues the Governor forced into the new budget that should have been debated on its own merits. Vaping products should under no circumstances be marketed or available to minors. I don’t believe vaping is healthy, but it may provide some assistance to quitting smoking tobacco.”

“I do not believe that is valid,” Schiele said to that point. “Nicotine is intensely difficult to quit, and the idea that having free will and availability of nicotine is going to help you mitigate your addiction, I just don’t think is valid.”

Last year, Governor Andrew Cuomo ordered a halt on sales of all flavored e-cigarette products after several cases of deaths associated with vaping spurred action by states and the federal government. The Governor’s ban was supposed to stay in effect until early 2020, but was halted by state supreme court in October and was later shot down entirely.

Last year the state raised the minimum age for tobacco purchases, including vaping products, to 21 and instituted a 20% tax, which the NYSVA has called a “sin tax.”

Featured photo courtesy of Mike Mozart

Vaughn Golden

Vaughn Golden is a freelance radio and print reporter covering politics around the southern tier and central New York. He authors the weekly "Capitol Watch" watchdog report on Ithaca's representatives...