Assemblymember Linda B. Rosenthal Announces her Legislative Package to Curb Youth Vaping Included in 2019 Executive Budget Proposal

January 15, 2019

Albany, NY – Assemblymember Linda B. Rosenthal (D/WF- Manhattan) today announced that her legislation to ban the sale of flavored e-cigarettes (A.47), raise the statewide smoking and vaping age to 21 years old (A.588) and require e-cigarette retailers to register with the State (A.481) was included in the FY2019-20 Executive Budget proposal.

“When I began my work to curb youth vaping in 2010, the youth vaping crisis was still in its nascent days. Now, Juul Labs – founded less than four years ago and already the dominant force in the e-cigarette industry – is a $38 billion company, and more than one in four high schoolers in New York uses e-cigarettes. While manufacturers say that e-cigarettes are designed to help smokers quit, their marketing targets a new generation of young people, hooking them on nicotine. I am heartened that the Governor’s speech recognizes the scope of this crisis, and that our state is now ready to meet the challenge,” said Assemblymember Linda B. Rosenthal (D/WF- Manhattan).

Though tobacco use among New York State youth dropped by more than 84% from 2000 to 2016, our incredible progress has been undercut by the explosion in youth usage of e-cigarettes. According to a 2018 report from the NYS Department of Health, 27.4% of New York State high schoolers have reported using e-cigarettes.

The vast majority of young people report being attracted to e-cigarettes because of the flavors, such as mango, cucumber, fruit, and creme.

“If we’re serious about ensuring young people do not pick up the vaping habit, then banning the sale of flavored e-cigarettes that entice them is the rational next step,” said Assemblymember Linda B. Rosenthal.

Currently, 25 localities, covering 75% of the state’s population, have raised the smoking and vaping age to 21 years old. A statewide standard will ensure that young people can’t just travel into another county to purchase dangerous and highly addictive cigarettes or e-cigarettes.

And it’s vital that we track e-cigarette retailers in the same way we do tobacco retailers to guarantee their compliance with the laws we’ve passed to protect kids.

To that end, the Executive budget proposal includes legislation long sponsored by Assemblymember Rosenthal requiring retailers to register with the state, allowing the state to enforce its laws and deter adolescents from using these products.

The meteoric rise of Juul Labs, an e-cigarette manufacturer founded in 2015 which already holds a market share greater than 70%, has thrust youth vaping figures into the stratosphere. Research indicates that while more than 80% of youth who vape Juul products say they are drawn in by flavors, 60% report that they did not know Juul pods contain nicotine. Complicating matters, and revealing Juul’s true goals, Juul recently accepted a $12.8 billion minority investment from Altria, the country’s largest tobacco company. Through the deal, Altria assumed a 35% ownership stake in Juul, bringing incredible influence to ensure shelf space and scalability for Juul products. 

“I have been beating the drum for a crackdown on e-cigarette sales in New York State long before Juul Labs appeared on the scene. Now, the fox is guarding the hen house, and a generation is at risk of being hooked on nicotine all over again,” said Assemblymember Linda B. Rosenthal. “I look forward to passing my legislation in the New York State Assembly, and seeing it finally becoming law this session.”

New York State has been in the vanguard of e-cigarette regulation for many years. In 2012, Assemblymember Rosenthal’s legislation to ban the sale of e-cigarettes to minors under the age of 18 was passed into law, and then extended to include the sale of liquid nicotine. In 2017, Assemblymember Rosenthal’s legislation extending the protections of the State’s Clean Indoor Air Act, which prohibits smoking in the vast majority of indoor spaces statewide, to include e-cigarettes was passed into law, and her legislation banning e-cigarettes on school grounds statewide was signed into law. In 2018, Assemblymember Rosenthal’s bill to ban the distribution of free e-cigarette samples to students became law.