ALBANY - New York may become the first state to ban the sale of flavored e-cigarettes as early as next year.
Earlier this week, the state's Department of Health filed a proposed rule in the New York State Register that would ban the sale of flavored e-cigarettes in the state, citing concerns over teenage use.
"The dramatic increase in use of e-cigarettes by youth is driven in large part by flavored e-liquids, and flavors are a principal reason that youth initiate and maintain e-cigarette use," the agency said in the filing, which applied to flavored e-cigarettes only.
The proposal, however, was withdrawn just days later, pending further review, the agency said.
"The proposed regulation has been withdrawn pending one more round of legal review and will be refiled soon," Jill Montag, a Health Department spokeswoman, said.
It is unclear when the department plans to refile the proposal, though the idea to ban flavored e-cigarettes has support in Albany.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo has been critical of the vaping industry in the past.
In 2017, he signed legislation that barred using e-cigarettes and vapes from workplaces, bars and restaurants as part of the state's Clean Indoor Air Act and has repeatedly expressed concerns over e-cigarette use among teenagers.
A year earlier, New York banned the sale of e-cigarettes and vapes to those under 18.
"As the governor previously said, he's very concerned about the rise in youth e-cigarette use and this administration is looking to do everything it can to curb this emerging public health issue," Rich Azzopardi, a spokesman for the governor, said.
Doctors, Scientists Call For Ban On Flavored e-Cigarettes
Cuomo is not alone in his desire to crackdown on the billion-dollar industry.
The Food and Drug Administration on Friday announced plans to limit where flavored e-cigarettes can be sold.
The FDA earlier this year weighed an outright banning flavored e-cigarettes, citing what the agency's Commissioner Scott Gottlieb called "an epidemic" in use among teenagers.
Under the new regulations, convenience stores and gas stations will only be permitted to sell mint and menthol flavored e-cigarettes and vapes.
E-cigarettes come in an assortment of flavors including, cherry, apple and melon among others.
The flavored products are often criticized for their appeal to young teens.
Tobacco use among teenagers has decreased in recent years, according to the 2017 National Youth Tobacco Survey, whereas e-cigarette use has spiked.
Sponsored by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the survey found that 3.3 percent of middle schoolers and 11.7 percent of high schoolers who use tobacco products rely on e-cigarettes.
“We’re encouraged by the recent declines in overall youth tobacco use; however, we must do more to address the disturbingly high number of youth who are using e-cigarettes,” Gottlieb said in a statement.
The FDA began cracking down on manufacturers of flavored e-cigarettes earlier this year, arguing the companies have not done enough to keep their products out of the hands of children and young teens.
The agency gave five flavored e-cigarette manufacturers —Juul, Vuse, MarkTen XL, Blu and Logic — 60 days to submit plans to keep their product out of the hands of children. Failure to do so would result in the manufacturers products being pulled from shelves.
The five companies represent 97 percent of the U.S. market for e-cigarettes.
Proponents of e-cigarettes and vaping view the products as a healthier alternative to smoking. Health advocates, however, take an opposing stance, chastising the industry as dangerous and calling vapes harmful to users.
The FDA in 2016 gained the authority to regulate the industry after years of no regulation.
In Western New York, one business owner says this proposed rule will be detrimental to his business.
"It would be crippling, I mean 90 percent of our sales are from e-liquid" said Cloud Chasers Vapor Lounge Co-Owner Thomas Snider. "We’ve got over 2,700 employees across the state, we’ve got over 700 shops in New York State. It would put that many people out of work."
However Kids Escaping Drugs believes it will have a positive impact.
"I think banning the flavored actual devices and the juices that can be put into the devices can have a tremendous impact on the number of young people who are interested in picking up vaping," said Kids Escaping Drugs Program Director Jessica Hutchings.