New York City passes multiple anti-vaping laws

The nation’s largest city would really rather you just kept smoking

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new-york-vaping-laws

The government in the largest city in the U.S. has made it clear that vape shops and vapers are not welcome.

New York City just passed laws that

  • Cap the number of vape shops in the city at half of the current number (allowing the number to decline through attrition)
  • Force e-cigarette sellers to be licensed. Licenses are not transferable
  • Prohibit any business that sells cigarettes from also selling vapor products
  • Prevent residents in apartment buildings with fewer than 10 units from vaping in common areas

The vaping restrictions were part of a package of tobacco-related laws that were pushed through the council rapidly, with backing from Mayor Bill de Blasio. And it was truly a package: council members weren’t allowed to vote on each law separately; they were forced to choose all or none.

The headline news was that the council established a “floor price” (the lowest allowable price at retail) of $13 for a pack of cigarettes, and banned sales of cigarettes in pharmacies. But the way the laws advanced was ugly.

A law firm representing the New York Association of Grocery Stores accused the council of violating open meeting rules, according to Crain’s New York Business. The firm says that since the health committee passed a bill that that added the term “electronic cigarettes retail dealer” to the city administrative code at the same time it passed the vaping legislation (which depended on the change in code language), there must have been a secret meeting to make sure both bills passed simultaneously.

Along with the $13 cigarette price, the council established an $8 minimum price for a package of smokeless tobacco. Studies have shown that as many as half of the cigarettes sold in New York City are on the illegal black market. That means that smokers may be able to find cigarettes that cost less than a package of smokeless tobacco that is likely 98-100 percent safer.

On August 8, the council’s health committee unanimously approved the package of bills. Then without any public debate, study or consultation, the whole council voted on the package the next day. The legislation advanced so quickly that CASAA, which had issued a call to action just a day before the first vote, had to add an urgent update the morning of the final vote. Needless to say, the extreme speed of the council’s actions prevented any momentum from opposition forces.

See CASAA’s detailed breakdown of all the new laws.

Also, something good happened

Meanwhile, one tiny ray of hope has appeared for vapers and smokers in New York. Randy Abreu, a lawyer and former Obama administration employee who believes in tobacco harm reduction, is challenging incumbent Fernando Cabrera for the Democratic nomination in District 14 in the Bronx.

The primary election is on September 12. Cabrera is the author of the law that caps the number of vape shops in the city.

Vapers and vape shop owners in the Bronx who want to do something concrete to help change minds would be wise to volunteer for Abreu’s campaign. This is how change happens. If elected, Abreu would be in a position to influence other young progressives, and to stand up publicly for vaping in a city where we have almost no friends.

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Jim McDonald
I spend most of my time studying the regulatory, legislative and scientific challenges to vaping, advocating for our right to exist, and talking with others who do the same. Consider me a source for information, and feel free to agree or disagree with anything I say. I love good coffee and sweet Michigan cherries. My childhood hero was Gordie Howe.
  • dje3

    It is time to SUE the counsel of the city of NY for violation of State laws. I don’t care WHAT government it is, the input of the people and studies of impact to society and to commerce are required before taking such action.

    My guess is that under FOIA laws one would find out that private meetings took place and or the emails and messages went between parties that violate state and federal laws on passage of such ordinances.

    Also, it may be that the ordinances themselves are illegal restraint of trade. To make Czars of some and take away the rights of others to become competitors. Can you imagine is NYC passed laws that ONLY so many Italian or Chinese or Pizza or sandwich restaurants would be allowed?

    This is a precedent that should NOT exist, it is draconian, it is fascist and it is unconstitutional altogether.

    I sincerely pray that there is a group out there that can have the funding to gain the FOIA information and to somehow get the whistle blowers to tell the truth about the meetings. I also pray that the PEOPLE of NYC throw out everyone involved in the private meetings and hopefully have them prosecuted for their illegal actions!

    • Jim McDonald

      Sounds like a good thing for some enterprising vaper to take on!

  • Geen

    How do they propose to enforce this. They cant even keep illegal drugs off the streets and they think they are going to stop me from vaping where I am not supposed to? Good luck catching me.. I make it my business to vape in your petty “no vaping zones” hah never been caught yet.

    • Jim McDonald

      Well, this group of laws is about where vapes can be sold. But yeah, they already have silly laws about public vaping.