Local vape shops brace for flavored e-cig ban

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ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Governor Andrew Cuomo has moved to ban flavored e-cigarettes. He says this week the Health Planning Council will convene to issue an emergency regulation that would take effect immediately. Meanwhile, local retailers are reeling.

Fred Leonardi, who owns Smoke Signals in Halfmoon, says the majority of his customers are adults trying to quit smoking and banning them would be a big hit to business.

“I think it’s going to push a lot of people back to tobacco,” he said.

Leonardi says 35 percent of his sales is flavored vape juice. He calls Governor Cuomo’s plan to ban the liquids a knee-jerk reaction to illnesses across the country – some of which have been linked to cannabis products containing vitamin e acetate—which Leonardi says he and other vape shops do not sell.

“I think they need to do some more research and find out if it really is the bootleg THC pods and focus on that,” said Leonardi.

But word of the ban was met with a relief by Theresa Zubretsky with Capital District Tobacco Free Communities.  

 “The first feeling was ‘yay,’ this has been a long time coming and we’ve had concerns about youth use e-cigarettes for some time,” said Zubretsky.

She says youth use is reaching epidemic levels. 40% of 12th graders and 27% of all high schoolers admit to vaping. Zubretsky only wishes the ban included menthol e-cigs and flavored tobacco products.

“A ban on menthol cigarettes and other flavored tobacco like cigars, cigarillos, and snuff would help to prevent kids from picking up those as a replacement for the nicotine in the e-cigarettes,” she said.

Smoke Signals is a full-fledged smoke shop, so the ban won’t put them out of business, but it’s a different story in Clifton Park, where Vapor Geekz relies on making and selling vape juice. In a release they said they would, “stand with the New York State Vapor Association to fight this injustice.” And, “save our freedoms, save our flavors.”

Governor Cuomo said the ban could go into effect within two weeks and that the administration would like to start enforcing it by Oct. 4th.

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