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EDITORIAL: Vaping ban a knee-jerk reaction

EDITORIAL: Vaping ban a knee-jerk reaction

Ban could set back smokers trying to quit, hurt legitimate businesses and may not address the real causes of latest vaping illnesses
EDITORIAL: Vaping ban a knee-jerk reaction
Photographer: Shutterstock

According to the New York State Health Department, about 2 million people in New York smoke tobacco.

Every year, smoking kills 28,000 New Yorkers.

About 750,000 adults in New York currently suffer from serious smoke-related illnesses.

Smoking is directly attributed to $10.39 billion in annual health care costs and $7.33 billion in lost worker productivity in New York.

If Gov. Andrew Cuomo really wanted to reduce the negative effects of dangerous products, he’d ban the sale of cigarettes.

But instead of doing that — and sacrificing the more than $2 billion in annual revenue from taxes and related sources New  York receives as a result of tobacco use —the governor saw an opportunity to score big political points by ordering a ban on virtually all flavored vaping products in New York.

In taking such impulsive and drastic action in the name of protecting the public’s health, the governor is discounting the comparatively minuscule number of people who have fallen ill due to vaping in New York (about 65), ignoring the most likely causes of the most recent health problems associated with vaping (counterfeit, altered and tainted products and those containing THC and vitamin-E acetate), and discounting the fact that thousands of adults in New York successfully use vaping to wean themselves off their significantly more dangerous smoking habit.

The governor’s emergency ban doesn’t cover vaping products flavored to taste like menthol or tobacco, so it’s unlikely to have the desired effect of most stopping kids from vaping.

Some adults who can’t get ready access to vaping products to help them quit smoking may go back to smoking cigarettes, which aren’t covered by the ban.

And the ban on legal vaping products could drive more people to purchase the illegal products that many believe are the true source of recent health problems.

There’s no doubt vaping comes with health issues, and that kids are particularly vulnerable to its appeal.

But an all-out ban without a full study of the actual causes and the effects is an irresponsible overreaction that could cause more problems than it solves, without taking the worst culprits off the streets.

New York needs a more deliberate approach that involves cracking down on stores that sell and market to kids, cracking down on non-licensed sellers, studying the true health effects of all types of vaping products, and increasing educational efforts about the dangers.

This ban is little more than a feel-good measure that won’t make many people actually feel good, while potentially hurting many small businesses and the many adults trying to quit smoking.

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