Flavoured e-cigarettes banned in New York

New York has banned the sale of flavoured e-cigarettes Credit: AP/Bebeto Matthews

New York has become the first US state to ban the sale of flavoured e-cigarettes.

The move comes as federal health officials investigate a mysterious surge of severe breathing illnesses linked to vaping.

The vote by the state Public Health and Health Planning Council means the ban, which covers all flavoured cigarettes and other vaping products except for menthol and tobacco flavors, goes into effect immediately. Retailers will have two weeks to remove merchandise from store shelves.

Governor Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, had proposed the emergency ban on Sunday, citing surging use among young people.

According to data from the state health department, 27% of high school students overall in the state use e-cigarettes. Use among high-school students went from 10.5% in 2014 to 27.4% in 2018.

Mr Cuomo pointed to vaping flavors like bubblegum and cotton candy that he said seemed aimed at young people.

“We don’t really know the health consequences of these devices,” he said on public radio.

Vape shop owners say they are considering a legal challenge to the new regulation, which they say should have gone before members of congress for hearings, debate and a vote.

Mike Kruger owns two vape shops in the Albany region and said the ban could force hundreds of businesses like his to close. He said smokers looking to quit will have fewer options under the ban. As for the breathing illnesses, Mr Kruger said he believes they are the result of people buying black market vape liquid, not the items he sells.

“We are bypassing the legislative process,” he said of the ban. Mr Kruger added that many adults seek out the flavoured versions. He himself prefers blue raspberry. “Vaping has been around for 12 years. And now this.”

The exemption for menthol was criticised by some health groups who are worried young people would switch to that variety. It includes all types of flavoured vaping products, including disposable and refillable devices.