The New York City Council is considering a ban on vaping flavors, and a key committee will hold a public hearing next week to discuss the proposed ordinance. Vapers and other stakeholders will have an opportunity to speak at a public hearing on Jan. 30.
The text of Ordinance 3592 is not yet available, but according to CASAA, it is likely to follow one of three patterns seen in recent flavor legislation elsewhere:
None of those options are good for vapers or the vaping industry. A major survey of adult vapers last year showed that the ex-smokers who have been most successful at avoiding cigarettes by vaping prefer fruit and dessert flavors. And a ban on sales at convenience stores and bodegas eliminates choices in the locations smokers are most likely to encounter them, which means fewer impulse purchases that may lead to long-term switching.
It’s important for members of the City Council (especially those on the Health Committee) to hear from residents before the meeting. You can use CASAA’s call to action page to send a message to the Health Committee members. You can also call the committee members and politely register your opposition to Ordinance 3592 (and keep calling after the hearing, since the final vote may not happen for several weeks). Explain how flavored vapor products have helped you.
A rally to oppose the ordinance is being held on the steps of City Hall at 11:30 a.m., hosted by the American Vaping Association, the New York State Vapor Association, and SFATA. If you’d like to speak at the hearing, try to arrive early and join the rally. And even if you choose not to speak, you can attend the rally and hearing. (The AVA has created a promotional flyer for the rally that vape shops — or anyone — can hand out.)
Turnout at the rally and hearing is crucial. The pressure to ban flavors is not a grassroots effort, but is coming from the same tobacco control and “public health” groups that have opposed vaping for a decade. Those special interests will certainly be there to push their agenda, but a visible display by the real stakeholders in the fight can make a lot of difference. Council members are much more responsive to their own constituents than national politicians are. If they hear (and see) their own voters standing up against such a ban, outside pressure will be less likely to affect their decisions.
With flavor bans in place in San Francisco and other California cities, and being proposed in other cities and states — and now even federally — losing flavors in the nation’s largest city would be a blow to vapers everywhere. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is proposing a similar statewide flavor ban in his new budget plan, and may be persuaded to back off if such a ban were soundly defeated in New York City.