Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today took action to curb electronic cigarette and liquid nicotine use among minors, signing an executive order that directs state agencies to deploy education awareness program on vaping and legislation (S.301A/A.481A) to expand current school-based programs and marketing campaigns aimed at reducing tobacco use to include e-cigarettes and liquid nicotine.

“After raising the smoking age to 21 to protect young people from the costly and deadly addiction to nicotine, we are doubling down on our mission to protect the public health and keep our children safe from the dangers of e-cigarettes – which have unfortunately become common alternatives to regular cigarettes.” Governor Cuomo said. “We are united and determined in our goal to protect an entire generation of New Yorkers from these harmful products and will use every tool at our disposal to accomplish this.”

The Governor’s executive order directs all State agencies, departments, and public benefit organizations over which the Governor has executive authority to include vaping and e-cigarette prevention and cessation measures into their educational programs and employee training. The order also directs the state Department of Health to work with the State Education Department to immediately develop and deploy such measures for school districts to incorporate into their curriculums. Nearly 40 percent of 12th-grade students and 27 percent of high school students in New York State use e-cigarettes. High school use last year was 160 percent higher compared to 2014.

Meanwhile, S.301A/A.481A enhances New York State’s tobacco use prevention and control program, which includes community and school-based programs, marketing and advertising campaigns, tobacco cessation programs for youth and adults, and restriction of youth access to products, among other strategic activities. The bill calls on the Tobacco Use Prevention and Control Advisory Board to provide the Health Commissioner with the necessary tools to update the Department of Health’s tobacco use prevention and control activities to address e-cigarettes and liquid nicotine.

Senator Brad Hoylman said, “Vaping is a national public health emergency, especially among teens who are getting hooked on nicotine at alarming rates. I’m grateful to Governor Cuomo for the bold action he’s taking against vaping and signing our legislation (S.301-A/A.481-A) today that will help educate about the dangers of e-cigarettes among our most vulnerable population, our children. We must eradicate this health crisis before it gets worse. I am extremely appreciative of the work of my colleagues on this issue, including New York State Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, Senate Health Committee Chair Gustavo Rivera, and the Assembly sponsor of this legislation, Linda Rosenthal.”

Assembly Member Linda Rosenthal, who has passed eight laws since 2012 to protect people against the known and unknown dangers associated with e-cigarette use, said, “In light of the serious health effects and deaths related to e-cigarette use, sighing this legislation into law could not come soon enough. For too long, e-cigarette companies have used deceptive marketing practices and sleek ad campaigns featuring attractive young models in trendy settings vaping ‘cool’ flavors to lure young people into a lifetime of dangerous nicotine addiction. Including e-cigarettes in the State’s Tobacco Use Prevention and Control Program, which has helped New York achieve a dramatic reduction in traditional smoking rates, will help us to close the information gap. Knowledge is power, and investing in aggressive vaping-prevention education will help discourage the use of e-cigarettes, particularly among young people, by empowering them with the information they need to make smart decisions about e-cigarette use.”

Today’s executive order and bill signing follow Governor Cuomo’s directing the New York State Department of Health to take a series of measures to address two emerging public health crises: the increasing number of cases of vaping-associated respiratory illnesses and the increasing number of youth that are using vape products and developing lifelong nicotine addictions. The Governor directed the Department of Health to issue subpoenas to companies marketing and selling “thickening agents” used in black market vaping products and to issue emergency regulations mandating that warning signs must be posted in all vape and smoke shops in New York State.

In addition, Governor Cuomo directed the Department of Health to issue emergency regulations, approved today by the Public Health and Health Planning Council (PHHPC), to require entities in New York State that sell vaping products to post signage on the dangers of vaping. The Department is also launching a public service campaign to further educate the public on the numerous risks involved with vaping.

Governor Cuomo will also advance legislation to prohibit the possession, manufacture, distribution, sale or offer for sale of flavored electronic liquids to discourage electronic cigarette use in New York State.

According to Department of Health data, nearly 40 percent of 12th-grade students and 27 percent of high school students in New York State are now using e-cigarettes, and this increase is largely driven by flavored e-liquids. High school use in 2018 (27.4%) is 160 percent higher than it was in 2014 (10.5%). While New York’s high school student smoking rate dropped from 27.1% in 2000 to a record low of 4.3% in 2016, aggressive marketing promoting flavored e-cigarettes stands to turn that trend. Flavoring is a key youth marketing strategy of the vaping/aerosol industry just as it is in the cigarette, cigar, and smokeless tobacco markets. E-cigarette marketing highlights flavors such as mint chocolate, bubblegum and cherry cola, and creates a mistaken belief that they are not harmful to users. Studies show nearly 78% of high school students, and 75% of middle school students report being exposed to pro-tobacco marketing in 2016.

Patients using vape products reported a variety of symptoms, developing over a period of days to weeks, including pulmonary symptoms (cough, shortness of breath, chest pain), gastrointestinal symptoms (nausea, vomiting, diarrhea), fatigue, fever, headache, and weight loss.