WASHINGTON, May 18, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- New York's historic law prohibiting the sale of all flavored e-cigarettes takes effect today. This action is the right move to reverse skyrocketing youth use of e-cigarettes and couldn't come at a better time as health experts are warning that smoking and vaping can worsen the effects of COVID-19. It's more critical than ever to keep our lungs healthy. This measure is necessary to prevent e-cigarettes from addicting a new generation of kids and reversing the enormous progress we have made in reducing youth tobacco use.
Also going into effect is a statewide ban on the sale of all tobacco products at pharmacies. New York follows Massachusetts in taking this important action, and the city of Oakland did the same just last week. We applaud Gov. Andrew Cuomo for his strong leadership in pushing for these measures.
Especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, we urge Governor Cuomo and state lawmakers to continue and step up the state's efforts to prevent kids from using any tobacco products and help current tobacco users quit. That includes providing robust funding for the state's tobacco prevention and cessation programs.
The New York legislature should also tackle the serious problem of other flavored tobacco products – especially menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars – when they next return to session. It's time to stop tobacco companies from targeting and addicting kids with flavored products once and for all and put an end to the tobacco industry's long and harmful history of targeting kids and African Americans with menthol cigarettes. The coronavirus pandemic should serve as a wakeup call to make our lungs healthier now and for the future.
New York is one of four states that have prohibited the sale of flavored e-cigarettes, along with Massachusetts, New Jersey and Rhode Island (Massachusetts prohibited the sale of all flavored tobacco products). We strongly urge other states – including neighboring Connecticut and Vermont – to join in protecting the health of our kids by ending the sale of flavored tobacco products.
There is no time to waste as the youth e-cigarette epidemic has gone from bad to worse. According to the 2019 National Youth Tobacco Survey (2019 NYTS), e-cigarette use among high school students nationwide increased to 27.5% in 2019 compared to 11.7% in 2017. Altogether, more than 5.3 million middle and high school students now use e-cigarettes. In New York, 27.4% of high school students use e-cigarettes, compared to 4.8% who smoke cigarettes. The evidence is clear that flavored e-cigarettes have fueled this epidemic – 97% of youth e-cigarette users report using a flavored product in the past month, and 70% cite flavors as the reason for their use.