By Alexandra Jennerjahn Syracuse, N.Y. (NCC News) – A statewide ban on e-cigarette flavors went into effect on Tuesday Governor Cuomo’s attempt to stop the increase of vape related illnesses.
The ban pushing bankruptcy on 700 independent vape shops across Central New York, and threatening thousands of employee’s jobs, according to an official statement from New York State’s Vapor Association (NYSVA).
The ban is causing frustration to those in the vaping industry who now have less than two weeks to sell all of their flavored vape products, and who didn’t expect this to be what would potentially leave them jobless.
“We hope that everyone’s goal is to lean off altogether, and if that were to put us out of business, we could live with that. But to know that it’s being ripped away it is right now, is not good for public health at this point in time,” David Barry, the director on the board of the NYSVA, said.
Many vape users turned to these products as a way to quit smoking, others because they hoped to avoid the combustible tobacco.
“I think what they’re thinking is that it’s giving them the nicotine, without giving them everything else that comes with smoking – like the tar and other chemicals that they might be getting from regular smoking. So they’re still having their nicotine addiction, but they’re getting rid of some of those other by-products of smoking,” Karyn Johnson, coordinator of Onondaga Health Department’s Tobacco Program, said.
With or without the ban though, nicotine users will still be battling an addiction. The NYSVA fears that prohibition won’t work, and will instead lead users to purchase unsafe and illegal products.
“The adults that are depending on these products, knowing that there flavors are being taken away, will result in them going back to smoking. Or, they will seek product on the black market,” Barry said.
Instead of a ban, Barry suggested stronger regulation.
“Let’s make sure that there’s fines for the children of the underage. Where are they getting them from? A lot of the time it’s from parents, it’s from friends. We have make sure that they are, in some way, held responsible. So making sure that we’re enforcing these things, and giving the law enforcement the ability to do that as well,” Barry said.
The flavors are what are attracting young adults though, and the products are so new that health officials haven’t even fully understood the long term risks associated with them yet.
“It does have the potential to be less harmful, but we don’t want to say that it’s safe. I mean, look at the number of people that we’ve seen just in the last year who have come down with this mysterious lung illness, that are linked to vaping,” Johnson said.
Maxwell Berger, Syracuse University student, faced serious personal injuries after vaping heavily for two years. He said he was smoking up to two JUUL pods a day, which is the same as smoking three packs of cigarettes.
After a 100 day hospital stay, and three brain surgeries, he’s now suuing JUUL labs, an e-cigarette company, and working towards leading a normal life.
While many people are using Berger’s story as motivation to quit their nicotine addiction and enforce the flavor ban, others, like those who are a part of the NYSVA, are concerned that we’ll have more cases like Berger’s if the ban pushes products to the black market.