Democrats pushing for new taxes and restrictions on electronic cigarettes suffered a major defeat in New York over the weekend after lawmakers stripped new vaping rules from the state budget at the last minute.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo proposed an expansion of the state ban on vaping in certain areas to include restaurants, offices and any other public, indoor space. The ban gained bipartisan traction in both bodies of the state legislature in March, who also agreed to back a 10-cents-per-milliliter tax on liquid nicotine as part of the state’s $163 billion budget. The budget passed Sunday, but to the shock of those on both sides of the debate, all the vaping provisions were stripped from the bill, reports LOHUD.
It is unclear what prompted lawmakers to ditch the massive vaping provisions. Critics of the ban and tax previously argued the new rules would financially wipe out the entire e-cigarette industry in the state.
“We’re very pleased,” Andrew Osborne, vice president of the New York Vapor Association, told LOHUD. “We’re happy to see New York take a step back from these aggressive regulations that would have essentially decimated the entire industry in the Empire State.”
Many proponents of vaping argue health regulators are ignoring how useful the devices can be in aiding smokers who are trying to quit. While regulators in the U.S. attempt to govern vaping the same way as traditional cigarettes, governments elsewhere actually promote them as a tool for harm reduction.
The U.K. encourages the sale of e-cigarettes as a health-conscious alternative to smoking. Roughly 56 percent of all adult smokers in the U.K. made the decision to quit in 2015, the largest number reported since 1974, and health officials give a lot of the credit to vaping.
Public health officials in the U.S. focused on harm reduction argue policymakers could learn a lot from the British approach to tobacco addiction.
The American Cancer Society announced their disappointment over the decision to remove the vaping language from New York’s budget, claiming it is risking the health of youths in the state. Critics of vaping say they are creating cigarette smokers out of children and teens, despite laws barring them from purchasing the devices.
“We rely on the goodwill of lawmakers to do the right thing,” Bill Sherman, vice president of government relations for the American Cancer Society’s Cancer Action Network, told LOHUD. “Unfortunately, the good guys lost here.”
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