Court blocks New York ban on flavored e-cigarettes

Chris Dolmetsch

New York’s emergency ban on flavored e-cigarettes, imposed earlier this month amid a rising epidemic of illnesses and deaths linked to vaping, was temporarily blocked by a state appeals court after a challenge from an industry group.

Michigan last month became the first state to implement a limited ban on flavored e-cigarettes, and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced a ban on thousands of flavors of e-cigarettes and vaping liquid like mango, bubble gum and cotton candy about two weeks later.

Since launching in 2015, Juul has been a runaway success, attracting the ire of parents and regulators who say the company’s devices hook teenagers.

The Vapor Technology Association, a Washington-based trade group, sued to stop the ban from taking effect, saying that the overwhelming majority of the illnesses being probed are directly tied to black market products containing THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, and not regulated nicotine products. On Thursday, an appeals court in Albany temporarily blocked the action pending further arguments scheduled for Oct. 18.

“It is undeniable that the vaping industry is using flavored e-cigarettes to get young people hooked on potentially dangerous and deadly products,” New York State Health Commissioner Howard Zucker said in a statement. “While the court’s ruling temporarily delays our scheduled enforcement of this ban, it will not deter us from using every tool at our disposal to address this crisis.”

The number of vaping-related lung-injury cases across the U.S. has climbed to 1,080 and deaths linked to the ailment rose to 18 from 12, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on Thursday. Officials haven’t determined the cause of the outbreak or identified any single product or substance responsible for causing the injuries.

The CDC is working with the Food and Drug Administration and state health partners to investigate the cause or causes. A study published Wednesday by Mayo Clinic pathologists said the ailments are most likely caused by exposure to toxic chemicals.