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Release: Cuomo, Health Department say vaping illness cases increase to 81 in NYS.
Text of September 20, 2019 press release.

For Immediate Release: 9/20/2019


U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Reports 530 Cases in 38 States with 8 Confirmed Deaths

New York State's Reported Cases of Vaping-Associated Illnesses Increases to 81

New York State Health Department Issues Updated Guidance for Health Care Providers

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and State Department of Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker today re-issued a warning to New Yorkers to continue to refrain from using e-cigarette or vaping products as the number of vaping-associated illnesses sharply increases both nationally and in New York State. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is reporting 530 vaping-associated illnesses -- up from 380 last week -- in 38 states with 8 confirmed deaths. New York has reports of 81 confirmed cases -- up from 64 last week -- and the Wadsworth Center, the state's public health lab, continues to test both cannabis and nicotine-containing vape products received from patients.

"More people across the country are getting sick from vaping and common sense dictates that if you don't know what you're smoking, don't smoke it," Governor Cuomo said. "Vaping is dangerous, period, and we are urging New Yorkers to stop using these products until we have more information about this public health crisis."

The New York State Department of Health has issued guidance for health care providers with updated clinical information about New York's cases, procedures for reporting case information, instructions on collecting and submitting product for testing at the Wadsworth Center, and patient education.

New York State Health Commissioner Dr. Zucker said, "The increase in vaping-associated illnesses is alarming as are the severity of the cases we're seeing. We urge New Yorkers of all ages to heed the warnings from Governor Cuomo and the CDC to stop vaping until we have better information on what's causing this public health crisis."

Both nationally and in New York, most patients who have gotten sick have reported a history of using e-cigarette products containing THC. Many patients have reported using THC and nicotine, and some have reported the use of e-cigarette products containing only nicotine.

The CDC reports 16% of its case patients are under the age of 18. In New York, 17% of our 81 reported cases are teenagers and 56% are under the age of 25. In order to combat the concerning increase in youth using vape products, this week New York State became the first state in the nation to ban flavored e-cigs and nicotine e-liquids following a vote on emergency regulations by the Public Health and Health Planning Council. The ban currently excludes tobacco and menthol flavors; Health Commissioner Zucker is evaluating a ban on menthol and will offer a recommendation soon. As part of the Family Smoking and Tobacco Prevention Act of 2009, the U.S. Congress banned the sale of cigarettes with flavors other than menthol and tobacco.

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 deceptive belief that they are not harmful to users. In a 2017 survey of 15 to 17 year-old adolescents in New York State currently using electronic vapor products, 19% of the adolescents said that flavors were the reason that they first tried an e-cigarette and 27% said flavors were the reason for maintaining use. Studies also show nearly 78% of high school students and 75% of middle school students report being exposed to pro-tobacco marketing in 2016. Legislation will be advanced next session to prevent these deceptive and misleading advertisements to target our youth.

The Department of Health will begin enforcing the flavoring ban with retailers beginning Friday, October 4. Local health departments and the Department's District Offices, with State oversight, will handle enforcement. Retailers who violate the ban will face fines of up to $2,000 per violation, which is defined as each unit of flavored e-liquid or product containing e-liquid that is possessed, manufactured, sold or offered for sale in the state.