A bill to ban flavored e-cigarettes was approved by the City Council on Tuesday.
It passed the council by a vote of 49 to 2.
"We did nothing when Juul and other companies started to market their products on social media with stylish young people promoting juuling as a cool life style choice," said City Councilman Mark Levine, a Democrat who represents parts of northern Manhattan and sponsored the legislation.
The bill would make the city the largest municipality in the country to ban the sale of flavored e-cigarettes.
Mayor Bill de Blasio is expected to sign the legislation. There will be a six month phase-in period and a public awareness campaign to educate vendors about the upcoming ban, which would take effect in July of next year.
The legislation also requires the health department to launch a public information and awareness campaign to educate smokers of the free and low-cost alternatives to help them kick the habit.
The council's health committee unanimously voted in support of the ban initially.
The American Medical Association is also calling for an immediate ban of all e-cigarettes and vaping products. Supporters of the ban say the flavors, which include "cotton candy" and "watermelon," are designed to target young users and create a new generation of smokers. Electronic cigarette devices and tobacco-flavored pods will still be available.
The ban comes as elected officials around the country debate the safety of vaping amid some vaping-related illnesses around the nation. In New York, the state health department says two people have died from the illnesses, the youngest being just 17 years old. Critics counter that users introducing foreign substances into their pods, such as marijuana or fentanyl, are the dangers, not e-cigarettes themselves.
During the vote, pro-vaping advocates watching from the balcony of the City Council chambers threw dollar bills below.
"Big Tobacco thanks you!" they shouted at the lawmakers.
Some New Yorkers, including City Council Speaker Corey Johnson, who voted for the ban, have cited vaping e-cigarettes for helping wean them off tobacco cigarettes.
In a statement, Gregory Conley, the president of the American Vaping Association, said, "All the New York City Council did today was make it harder for adult smokers to quit, shut down small businesses, and create a new black market that will inevitably lead to Constitutional violations by the New York City Police Department. Prohibition failed for alcohol and marijuana, and it will be equally disastrous for America's most used quit smoking too."
De Blasio's signature, as well as Gov. Andrew Cuomo, has expressed support for the ban.
Cuomo's administration has pushed to outlaw flavored e-cigarettes statewide, but a court has blocked that ban for now.
Supporters of the city's ban were also pushing for a bill to limit the sale of menthol-flavored tobacco. That bill is being tabled for now, after aggressive lobbying efforts by the tobacco industry and the National Action Network. Led by the Rev. Al Sharpton, they say a ban on menthol cigarettes would disproportionately affect the African American community and could lead to an underground market and dangerous interactions with police.
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