New York became the first state in the country to ban flavored electronic cigarettes as hundreds of people have reported vaping-related illnesses, which have been linked to seven deaths.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced the decision to ban the flavored e-cigarettes on Tuesday as part of a series of efforts to combat the increase in young people using vape products. Cuomo said in a statement that it was "undeniable" that flavors like bubblegum and cotton candy are deliberately designed to target youths.
"New York is not waiting for the federal government to act, and by banning flavored e-cigarettes we are safeguarding the public health and helping prevent countless young people from forming costly, unhealthy and potentially deadly life-long habits," Cuomo said.
Cuomo's announcement followed a vote by the Public Health and Health Planning Council to enact the emergency regulations.
New York State Department of Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker said in a statement Tuesday that the high numbers of vaping use among young people is nothing short of a "public health crisis."
Data collected by the department indicated that 27 percent of high school students in New York State reported using e-cigs last year, which is a 160 percent increase to the data collected in 2014.
"These regulations are a part of many critical steps we are taking to combat this disturbing trend," Zucker said. "We will continue to be aggressive in our efforts to prevent nicotine addiction and bad marketing practices under Governor Cuomo's leadership."
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has said there are at least 380 vaping-related respiratory illnesses in 36 states, plus the U.S. Virgin Islands.
A seventh death related to the illness was confirmed in California on Tuesday.
Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer ordered a similar ban on flavored e-cigarettes on Sept. 4, but the action has yet to take effect while New York’s ban will be enacted immediately. Local health departments will be directed to begin conducting visits to enforce the New York ban beginning on Oct. 4.
On Monday, California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced a crackdown on counterfeit electronic cigarettes. The Democratic governor said he cannot take executive action to ban flavored e-cigarettes, despite his desire to do so, and that it will require legislative support.
Last week, President Donald Trump announced plans to ban the sale of flavored e-cigarettes.