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Flavored e-cigarette ban could force shops to close

September 11, 2019 08:01 PM

ALBANY - President Donald Trump's administration is proposing a ban on flavored e-cigarettes. 

Federal health officials are taking action as hundreds of people report having mysterious lung illnesses and at least six people have died. 

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Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar says the Food and Drug Administration will develop guidelines to remove all non-tobacco flavors of e-cigarettes, including menthol - especially those flavors favored by children. 

The American Heart Association says flavored e-cigarettes have addicted millions of young people to nicotine and jeopardized their short and long-term health. 

According to the State Health Department, 27-percent of high school students in New York are now using e-cigarettes. 

At Smokers Choice on Fuller Road in Albany, there are a lot of tobacco products: cigarettes, tobacco, cigars, and products that go along with tobacco use. 

There are also glass case displays filled with e-cigarettes and vaping devices and shelves on two walls of bottles of different brands and types of flavored e-juice. 

If the ban goes into effect, they'd be able to sell just two or three bottles. 

At Smokers Choice, the top sellers are cigarettes and bagged tobacco, but they like to have the option of selling vaping products, often to people who are trying to quit smoking. The best juice sellers are fruit-flavored and candy-flavored. 

Employee Nikos Assimakopoulos says a top-down ban is not as effective as education on addiction and a culture shift. 
Tobacco-flavored e-cigarettes would be allowed under the proposed ban. However, Nikos says many people who are trying to quit smoking don't choose that flavor, because they are trying to get away from that taste altogether. 

"Tobacco flavor is a good thing to have for possible smokers who wish to quit, but the problem is that's definitely our slowest seller," he said. "Not a lot of people go for the tobacco flavor. They tend to go for at least menthol, if not any fruit or candy or anything like that. If we were to remove most of their options, some of them would just rather stick to cigarettes."

Smokers Choice customers are urged to sign a petition against a possible Albany County ban on all flavored tobacco products, including menthol cigarettes and chewing tobacco, as well as e-cigarettes and flavored e-liquids.

Credits

Kumi Tucker

Copyright 2019 WNYT-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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