August 9, 2013
New YorkCity, NY --
The Bloomberg administration is quietly working to explicitly categorize electronic cigarettes as tobacco products and enact a sweeping ban on flavored e-cigs.
Initially the bills, drafted by the Health Department and introduced into the Council at the request of Mayor Bloomberg, were silent concerning the City's position on electronic cigarettes.
"The bills were written with no intention of addressing electronic cigarettes at all," Health Department Commissioner Thomas Farley told e-cigarette proponents [PDF] at a hearing in May.
The draft language reveals that this is no longer the case. While menthol and tobacco flavored e-cigarettes would ostensibly remain available at convenience stores, the burgeoning flavored e-cig market would ironically be relegated to "tobacco bars," of which there are very few in New York City—mostly because they must have been in existence before December 31, 2001.
Gregory Conley, an attorney and legislative director for The Consumer Advocates for Smoke-Free Alternatives Association, the organization that leaked the draft, said he was surprised at the proposed bill's language given the tenor of the meeting in May.
"Approximately 20 e-cigarette users spoke before the Health Committee and it was strongly implied by the Council members that the ordinances would be amended to protect consumer access to low-risk alternatives," Conley said.
"It appears that the Bloomberg administration is banking on the City Council rubber stamping their new ordinances, the passage of which would constitute a backdoor, unannounced ban on the sale of flavored e-cigarettes and e-cigarette liquid in New York City."
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