Cuomo Leverages Tragedy To Pass Vape Ban
Governor subverts democracy to push his anti-vaping agenda.
As the coronavirus crisis continues to unfold, lawmakers and public health officials are scrambling to slow the spread of the outbreak and work their best toward containment. While most are looking out for the common good, some are taking advantage of a crisis and risk putting the public in a panic to further their own agenda.
Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York has gained much notoriety over the last several weeks for his public handling of the outbreak within the state. Behind the scenes, however, a picture is being painted of a man playing politics with the health and lives of his constituency.
A vape ban was added to the upcoming 2021 State Budget amidst public panic and a lack of attention from media captivated by the crisis. A previous attempt to implement a ban through executive order was struck down by a state appellate court judge, stating the move was unconstitutional.
Critics of the move note that the Governor leveraged a moment of tragedy as a means of advancing his agenda without public scrutiny or even political debate. Industry organizations are currently exploring their options for challenging the measure.
The New York State Assembly passed a bill that would prohibit the sale of flavored vapor products, as well as restrict the sale of permitted vapor products to licensed retailers only. The bill was passed as a part of the larger 2021 State Budget and is set to take full effect by July 1st.
This follows a previous attempt by the Governor to implement a flavor ban through executive order late last year. That attempt was struck down by a New York State Appellate Court judge, who ruled that the order was unconstitutional.
Critics of the measure are concerned about the economic and public health ramifications such a ban will have, particularly on an already strained economy and the overburdened healthcare system. “The flavored vape ban will hurt small businesses and drive consumers to purchase dangerous black market products or travel to other states. It does nothing to rein in big tobacco, in fact, it’s being referred to as the JUUL Amendment. This is smoke and mirrors. Adults are capable of making their own decisions.” said Senator Pam Helming.
They also criticize Cuomo’s exploitation of our situation as an opportunity to play politician and advance his agenda, all at the expense of public health. “We’re disappointed that Governor Cuomo used a global health emergency to force the New York legislature to pass a ban on flavored vapor products through backroom negotiations and without holding a single hearing or debate,” said Tony Abboud, Executive Director of the Vapor Technology Association in a statement.
The worldwide smoking epidemic is currently responsible for millions of complications, diseases, and deaths each year. Data from the CDC estimates that there are currently 38 million smokers in the United States alone, of whom 16 million currently suffer from some form of smoking-related illness or disease.
Vaping is one of our greatest assets in combating this deadly epidemic, being both a proven smoking cessation aid and reduced harm alternative to tobacco. Research published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that vaping was more effective than traditional nicotine-replacement therapies in helping smokers quit and remain tobacco-free.
Vaping already saves thousands, and potentially millions, of lives throughout the world every year. Research from University College London found that vaping was responsible for helping up to 70,000 British smokers quit in a single year alone.
Vaping has been demonstrated as an effective smoking cessation device with no evidence of long-term risk to users as well. Research published by the National Academy of Sciences found that vaping is not only less harmful than smoking, but there are no known long-term health effects associated with prolonged use.
Cuomo’s subversion of democracy is flagrant political opportunism in the middle of an unfolding pandemic, responsible for the deaths of hundreds of people each day within the state. While praised for his press conferences, the political pariah continues his long-standing abuse of power long-deemed unconstitutional.
Members of the vaping industry and community in New York must stand together against such abuses of power. Although the ability for public demonstration is limited, there are still opportunities for civic engagement, such as letter-writing and call campaigns.
We must let lawmakers know that vapers are voters as well and that we are passionate about not only protecting our own health but the health of future ex-smokers as well. Vaping represents the greatest promise and potential we have in helping to combat the smoking epidemic, and we can use every bit of public health support we can get amid the coronavirus pandemic.
What are your thoughts regarding New York’s flavor ban? Do you believe the Governor leveraged a tragedy to further his own agenda? We would love to hear from you in the comments below, be sure to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter to receive all the latest vaping news!
(Image Credit – Pixabay – https://pixabay.com/images/id-1030778/)