New York City and Massachusetts approved sweeping bans on flavored e-cigarette products this week as the nation faced a wave of vaping-related deaths and renewed concerns about the industry targeting teens.
Massachusetts’ ban immediately went into effect on Wednesday, making it the first statewide, permanent ban in the nation. New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio has said he supports the ban and will either sign the legislation into law or let it take effect automatically.
The New York City Council voted Tuesday to ban all e-cigarette and e-liquid flavors, except for tobacco. Councilman Mark Levine, a Democrat, said there is “no higher obligation” than protecting the health of kids.
New York state officials had previously moved to implement a ban statewide, but it was halted by a court challenge.
Michigan also enacted a temporary ban in September with the option to renew the policy after six months.
Massachusetts’ law bans the sale of flavored tobacco and vaping products. The state’s ban on the sale of menthol cigarettes will take effect on June 1, 2020.
The law also places a 75 percent excise tax on vaping products and requires health insurers, including the state’s Medicaid program, to cover tobacco cessation counseling.
“This nation-leading step will save lives,” Democratic House Speaker Robert DeLeo said.
Previously passed by the state legislature, the bill was signed on Wednesday by Gov. Charlie Baker. In September, Baker had declared a public health emergency and ordered a temporary ban on the sale of all vaping products — flavored and unflavored.
Baker said Wednesday he’ll keep that ban in place until Dec. 11, while his administration drafts additional regulations.
A major retailers’ organization called the legislation disappointing.
“We are disappointed the legislature supports bills that disproportionately impact communities of color and have disastrous implications for public health, public safety, state tax revenue and jobs in the Commonwealth,” Jonathan Shaer, president of the New England Convenience Store Owners and Energy Marketers Association, said in a statement.
He called menthol and mint tobacco “legal, adult products that aren’t associated with youth overuse.”
At the federal level, vaping caught the attention of President Trump and first lady Melania Trump. Although Trump initially indicated he was interested in a ban, he reportedly backed away over concerns about job losses in the industry.
White House adviser Joe Grogan told Fox News’ Ed Henry on Saturday that the president was trying to balance the need for preventing youth vaping while allowing adults to find an off-ramp from combustible cigarette use.
“He’s asking questions and isn’t that refreshing in Washington, D.C. to see the President of the United States wanting to understand an issue inside and out before he makes a decision,” Grogan said.
“Freedom of choice is ingrained in the fabric of our society and is essential to the concept of limited government,” said Napolitano.
“Law-abiding adults should be free to do as they please as long as they understand the consequences of their actions, and if they don’t harm others by their actions…that even includes picking up unhealthy habits such as smoking and vaping.”
Fox News’ Yael Halon and the Associated Press contributed to this report.