New York bans flavours in e-juice

"Vejpare is sent back to smoking"

"Go to your local vejphop and buy everything you can. Make sure they empty the shelves, because that's the only thing that can help them get through the economic disaster they are now facing. They helped you quit smoking. Now you have to help them survive."

So writes Jonathan, who runs an online shop for vejp products in the US, in an appeal to vejpers in New York. In two weeks, vejp shops in New York will no longer be allowed to sell flavoured e-juice.

He doesn't work in New York, but his statement via social media is indicative of the mood of the community that has formed around vejpning over the years: fear, anxiety and cohesion.

Wind in the sails for flavour bans

The recent outbreak of lung disease, caused by the vejpaking of illegal e-juice containing THC and the dangerous substance e acetate (according to the Food and Drug Administration, FDA), mayors in several US cities have taken the opportunity to push through decisions that, just a few months ago, were highly controversial.

First, the state of Michigan banned the sale of flavoured e-juice. Preparations are underway in California, Utah and several other states. Yesterday it was the turn of New York State: in two weeks it will be a crime to sell flavoured e-juice in one of the world's largest cities. Smokers can only watch as the products they used for years to keep from smoking cigarettes disappear from the shelves.

"These bureaucrats who approved the ban have blood on their hands," writes the president of the American Vaping Association. Greg Conley in a press release. They just looked down at their mobile phones as their citizens testified how such a ban would have terrible consequences for their health, for public health in general. A flavour ban will send a large proportion of users back to smoking, we can say that with certainty."

E-juice important for the industry

E-juice is also at the centre of the multi-million dollar industry that e-cigarettes and vejping have become in the US. In New York alone, there are 700 vejp shops with around 3000 employees. These are mainly small local shops, many of which are now going out of business.

"This decision is not about promoting public health. Quite the contrary. It is about securing a billion dollars in cigarette tax revenue for New York," writes Greg Conley. "We will almost certainly pursue legal action to overturn this outright illegal and harmful ban."

Andrew Coumo accuses the companies

But policy makers in New York have dismissed the criticism. According to Governor Andrew Coumo, the ban is about "protecting young people from potentially dangerous products". At the a press conference On Tuesday, the Governor was asked if he had thought about what the ban would mean for ex-smokers who chose e-cigarettes to improve their health and quit smoking.

"The technology may be safer than smoking, but what does it matter? Flavours in e-cigarettes attract young people and it is clear that flavours such as Chewing Gum and Cotton Candy are aimed at children" said Andrew Coumo.

Research confirms that vejping attracts young people. But according to a large study of young people in the UK, only 0.2 per cent of young people who vejp regularly are former non-smokers. 1.7 per cent of young people under 18 use e-cigarettes at least once a week, but these are usually also regular smokers.

Not a gateway to smoking

In the US, the situation is slightly different. According to statistics, far more young people have tried e-cigarettes. In recent years, more young people than in the UK have tried e-cigarettes and regular use is higher. However, according to Linda Bauld, Professor of Health Sciences and one of the researchers who conducted the UK study, there is no data, either in the UK or the US, to suggest that smoking of analogue cigarettes is increasing due to young people trying e-cigarettes.

"E-cigarettes are not a gateway to tobacco smoking, not according to the data we have today. In particular, we do not see any increase in the number of smokers in society as a whole, which we should do if e-cigarettes were a gateway. However, we do see that those who test or use e-cigarettes are, in the vast majority of cases, already smokers."

According to Professor Linda Bauld, the use of e-cigarettes among young people needs to be closely monitored in research.

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