At a press conference in New York City on Tuesday, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced a 17-year-old male from the Bronx recently become the first person in New York State to die from vaping.
Vaping is now believed to have claimed just short of 20 lives across the country.
“This vaping is a public health crisis,” Cuomo said. “It is affecting our young people.”
“In New York State, 40 percent of high school seniors have used a vape product, 40 percent. That is an epidemic," said Theresa Zubretsky, the community engagement coordinator for Capital District Tobacco-Free Communities.
Zubretsky calls the recent rash of vaping deaths and hospitalizations "unsurprising."
"It was a totally unregulated market and more and more, the liquids begin to be available in all sorts of fruity, candy, funny-named to flavors, which is a huge attraction for young people,” Zubretsky said.
“These companies know exactly what they’re doing because they market to young people,” Cuomo said.
In his remarks, Cuomo called on the federal government to act quickly.
“The president had talked about taking action,” Cuomo said. “I don’t know how many people have to die before he takes action.”
At an afternoon event in the Hudson Valley, Senator Charles Schumer proposed a two-pronged approach to curbing vape use. In addition to launching an educational campaign, Schumer is supporting a federal ban on flavored e-cigarettes and vaping products.
"We don’t want a store owner to go across the line to New Jersey or Pennsylvania, buy them and sell them here,” Schumer said. “We need a national law."
“Any time we do anything policy wise that reduces youths’ easy access to these products, we will see a reduction in use, there’s no question about it,” Zubretsky said.
Zubretsky supports a more comprehensive approach that bans all flavored tobacco products.
“It is kind of a little too late, and we’re scrambling to play catch-up,” she said.