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Officials Should Address Cigarettes, And E-Cigarettes

A state Court of Appeals decision to temporarily block New York from enforcing a new prohibition on sales of flavored e-cigarettes is a welcome step.

The stay was granted one day before the state planned to start enforcing 90-day emergency regulations banning the sale of most flavored electronic cigarettes. The decision also follows a state court’s refusal last week to issue a temporary restraining order on the regulations approved in September by Gov. Andrew Cuomo. New York’s prohibition covering flavored e-cigarettes and other vaping products except for menthol and tobacco flavors went into effect immediately. Retailers initially had two weeks to remove merchandise from store shelves.

Concerns over the safety of e-cigarettes, and particularly the effects of flavored e-cigarettes on teenagers, have been around for years. It wasn’t until people began showing up in doctor’s offices and hospitals with lung illnesses after using some e-cigarettes that the federal and state governments moved to ban flavored e-cigarettes. It turns out that research and investigation is pinning many of the illnesses on black-market vaping pods containing tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana.

A crackdown on the illegal THC-related products is warranted given that such products are largely the cause of the sicknesses among vapers. The public panic regarding this sickness shouldn’t allow governors or President Trump to circumvent the legislative process regarding regulating a business that employs a growing number of people and which is helping people stop smoking cigarettes.

Lastly, governments are right to be concerned about the number of youth using flavored e-cigarettes given that so little is actually known about the long-term health effects of vaping. Health officials should gather the necessary information and perform the necessary studies before forming policies that effect people and businesses. As county Board of Health officials said recently, the state has issued policy before completing the necessary research. Perhaps policies should be incremental before a total ban is even considered. Have Gov. Cuomo or federal officials considered regulating the amount of nicotine in flavored e-cigarettes to make them less addictive for children? Are there limitations on marketing e-cigarettes to teens, as there are currently for cigarettes?

It is disingenuous to ban flavored e-cigarettes without a full understanding of their impact on a person’s health while allowing every stores to sell cigarettes while knowing full well that cigarettes are absolutely harmful to a person’s health.

Government officials should take a deep breath and form a coherent plan to address both cigarettes and e-cigarettes.

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