By Jenna Fink SYRACUSE, N.Y. (NCC News)— A recent spike in illnesses potentially linked to vaping has forced Governor Cuomo into action.
Nearly 400 cases have been reported around the country, including some in Central New York. That’s why Cuomo has issued a temporary ban on all flavored vape products.
“They’re saying that one juul pod is equal to about 20 cigarettes,” said Karyn Johnson, Tobacco Program Coordinator at the County Health Department. “I don’t think a lot of youth and young adults realize how much nicotine is actually in those products.”
While there may be some push back, Johnson says the ban has generally been well-received.
“From a public health standpoint, we support anything that restricts the availability and the interest in youth initiating the use of e-cigarettes,” she said.
Sofie Watson is a senior at Syracuse University. Like so many other young adults, she joined the e-cigarette frenzy.
“During the week, it would stay at my desk,” she said. “I wouldn’t touch it. but on the weekends, that was something that was a necessity. I would bring it more my friends for me.”
Watson quit after using juul products for six months and thinks the ban should’ve come sooner.
“I think it’s coming at a time, honestly a little two late,” she said. “So many people are hooked and really dependent on nicotine at our age. Not knowing the long term effects, that’s really scary.”
Supermarkets, convenience stores and smoke shops have two weeks to get rid of flavored vape products. Many shop owners wouldn’t comment on Cuomo’s ban. But Johnson says there’s still a loop hole.
“As the current law stands, it does not include menthol and mint, which we know is another flavor that’s very popular for teen use,” she said. “So we would hope to see that included as well.”
New York is the second state to implement the ban, after Michigan. In addition to the ban, the Onondaga County Health Department has several programs in place to help reduce addiction.
“We’re working with our partners to do education,” she said. “There’s vaping education happening in schools and community groups.”
On the enforcement side, The Adolescent Tobacco Use Prevention Act (ATUPA), works to ensure vaping products aren’t being sold to youth.
Johnson says the county also plans to release a statement with details about the ban and the risks of vaping.