NYC’s Crackdown On Vaping Leads To Five Arrests

Steve Birr | Vice Reporter

Several workers at convenience stores in New York City were recently arrested after selling electronic cigarettes and vapor products to people under the age of 21.

Complaints from residents of Suffolk County, Long Island, regarding nine businesses in the area sparked a police investigation earlier this month. Authorities subsequently arrested five store clerks between Dec. 2 and Dec. 18 for selling vaping devices and liquid nicotine to underage customers, in violation of local law, reports PIX 11.

The federal minimum age for purchasing tobacco products is 18, as is current New York state law, however, localities across the state have pushed ahead with their own local age hikes as part of the Tobacco 21 movement. Vaping devices are universally included in these tobacco restrictions, despite the fact they heat liquid nicotine and contain no tobacco.

Public health experts focused on harm reduction point out policies that restrict vaping by conflating the health risks with those from combustible tobacco put smokers lives at risks by making it harder for them to quit. After signing a new law cracking down on public vaping in November, Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo claimed, “These products are marketed as a healthier alternative to cigarettes but the reality is they also carry long-term risks to the health of users and those around them.”

These claims run counter to research showing the devices pose no meaningful secondhand risks. A forthcoming study investigating the health impact of aerosol vapor emitted from the devices shows that chemical levels in the vapor released from e-cigarettes are well below the safety limits suggested by both the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the World Health Organization.

Scientists at the University of Catania in Italy recently conducted a three-year study investigating the effects of regular vaping on the body of the user, finding “no evidence of health concerns associated with long-term use of e-cigarettes” on blood pressure, heart rate, body weight, lung function, respiratory symptoms, exhaled breath nitric oxide and exhaled carbon monoxide.

Health regulators in favor of age hikes and other restrictions fear the devices are hooking young Americans on tobacco and will lead to an increase in the youth smoking rate. Despite these anxieties, as vaping grows in popularity, youth smoking is plummeting to record lows.

The U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and the University of Michigan’s annual Monitoring the Future Survey released Dec. 14 shows reported cigarette use among 12th graders fell to only 4.2 percent this year, down from 24.6 percent in 1997, even as the number of youth experimenting with vaping devices increased.

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