The tempestuous relationship between New York City and e-cigarettes is continuing with the introduction of a bill that would ban flavoured e-cigs and e-liquids.
Democratic city council member Costa Constantinides has put INT 488 before the city government. If passed, the bill would prohibit the sale of flavoured e-cigarettes and e-liquids within the city limits.
It would make e-cigarette flavours the equivalent of those in tobacco from a regulatory perspective, meaning that varieties such as strawberry, grape, orange, clove, cinnamon, pineapple, vanilla, coconut, liquorice, cocoa, chocolate, cherry and coffee would no longer be available.
The city has previously passed a ban on use of e-cigarettes in areas where using conventional tobacco is prohibited. This includes bars, restaurants and other public places such as beaches, parks and public golf courses.
The Constantinides bill draws upon a line of reasoning common to most proposed flavour bans in other parts of the world: drastically reducing the range of flavours would prevent children from being attracted to vaping, becoming addicted to nicotine and thus, potentially, becoming smokers later on in life.
“Flavoured e-cigarettes create another avenue that tobacco companies are using to entice children and teenagers into using this potentially dangerous product. The e-cigarette industry has openly admitted that they are not in the tobacco cessation business,” said Constantinides.
Thus far, no flavour ban on e-liquids and e-cigarettes has successfully been introduced in the U.S., and it is not currently being considered as part of the national regulatory regime for e-cigs outlined by the deeming regulations of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
The proposed bill has the support of organisations such as the American Cancer Society, American Lung Association and American Heart Association. However, it is opposed by pro-e-cigarette organisations such as the American Vapers’ Association (AVA).
The AVA said that, if passed, the bill would end up hurting smokers as well as e-cigarette users. AVA president George Conley cited evidence from the Greek e-cigarette health researcher Konstantinos Farsalinos showing that adults using different flavours are much more likely to be tobacco-free than those just using tobacco flavours.
“If council member Constantinides’s bill becomes law, it will take away a valuable tool for New Yorkers looking to kick the habit,” Conley said. “The AVA supports common-sense regulation of its products, such as New York City’s existing ban on the sale to minors. But adults are free to make their own choices. This proposed law would not only take away a consumer choice, it would eliminate a competitor to Big Tobacco.”
What This Means: This new bill is one in a long line of proposed bans based on flavours in order to protect children. And like past efforts, it reduces a complex situation to a simple cause and effect. In reality, the reasons for an individual to take up vaping or smoking can be manifold and complex, and elimination of flavoured e-liquids is merely brushing around the edges.
The general scientific consensus on this aspect of the purported gateway effect seems to be – as so often where e-cigs are concerned – that more research is needed. In the meantime, the fate of proposed flavour bans in other jurisdictions might suggest that the bill is unlikely to pass…but then New York City has taken a stronger stand on e-cigs than many.
– Freddie Dawson ECigIntelligence staff
Photo: Robyn Lee