New York legislators will vote on a state budget bill in the next two days that currently includes a ban on all flavored vaping products, including bottled e-liquid. The budget must be passed by April 1 to keep the state government operating in the new fiscal year.
The flavor ban, which Governor Andrew Cuomo proposed as part of his state budget, prohibits all flavors except tobacco. If passed, it will give the state health department the power to regulate flavors.
Time is very tight, but all New York vapers—and friends and family—who haven’t yet contacted their elected officials can still use the CASAA call to action (linked below) to urge their New York Assembly members and Senators to oppose the flavor ban. The flavor ban language must be dropped from the bill, because the bill will be passed.
The New York State Vapor Association has suggestions for taking action on social media, and a list of key legislators to target with phone calls. Nothing will stop this legislation except the loud voices of vapers and vape shop employees and owners.
In recent weeks, anti-vaping activists have used the tragic spread of the coronavirus to frighten the public about vaping being a possible risk factor for catching the virus, and for having worse outcomes from the COVID-19 disease caused by the virus. There is no evidence that is true, but the lack of proof has not prevented tobacco control zealots from trying to persuade New York State legislators that a ban on flavored e-liquid would prevent additional COVID-19 deaths.
With the coronavirus pandemic ravaging New York City and other areas of the state, state tax revenue may take as much as a $15 billion hit this year, according to Gov. Cuomo. Legislative leaders are negotiating with the governor by video conference, deciding where necessarily drastic budget cuts will come from. The legislature is currently finalizing a plan to allow remote voting on the budget bill. Four members of the Assembly have tested positive for the coronavirus.
There is some hope the governor and legislators will drop the flavor ban and other complicated parts of the bill (marijuana legalization is also included in the proposed legislation) to smooth passage of the budget, but no one should count on that happening without the loud voices of vapers and vaping businesses demanding it.
Governor Cuomo has a history of supporting taxes and restrictions on vaping. Last September Gov. Cuomo imposed an “emergency” ban of flavored vaping products. When the vaping industry sued the state, a panel of judges put the flavor ban on hold temporarily in October, and in January of this year a state Supreme Court justice struck down the ban, ruling that the governor exceeded his authority.