County restricts the sale of electronic cigarettes to minors
A new Albany County law for bids the sale of battery-operated
liquid-nicotine delivery systems to anyone under the age of
18. Albany County is one of the few places in the nation to
outlaw e-cigarette sales to minors. Other jurisdictions, including
Suffolk County and the state of New Jersey, have barred the
use of e-cigs in established no-smoking zones, a move that
was proposed, but ultimately rejected in Albany County.
Legistlator Shawn Morse (D-District 18) called Local Law G,
which took effect this week, “one step in the right direction,”
referring to e-cigarettes as “one more blatant attempt to
recruit new addictive victims.”
Law G used the metaphor of training wheels on a bicycle to
depict e-cigarettes. Legislator Tim Nichols (D-District 20),
one of the bill’s co-sponsors,” called e-cigarettes a “very,
very dubious product that is now in our malls” and “a way
to get around the Clean Air Act by smoking in restaurants,
marketed as nicotine-replacement therapy—as a way to quit
smoking,” Nichols said. “There’s no scientific evidence to
make such claims. People are lured into this product to no
avail. The idea of smoking itself is now acceptable as long
as it’s this e-cigarette. It sends a mixed message to children.”
According to the law’s primary sponsor, Legislator Bryan Clenahan
(D-District 30), enforcement will ultimately be up to the
county health department, “I definitely like the idea of sting
operations where we send kids to see if they’re being illegally
sold,” he said.
Violators of Law G can be charged with a misdemenor and fined
up to $1,000.
Critics of the cigarette simulators say they haven’t been
thoroughly vetted by the Federal Food and Drug Administration.
Also at issue is their potential as a gateway to nicotine
addiction. Like ice cream, the ignitable nicotine cartridges
come in different flavors like chocolate, vanilla and cherry.
Unlike over-the-counter nicotine patches or gum, e-cigarettes
gratify the oral fixation of smoking. They are made of hard
plastic, but using them mimics the sensation of holding and
inhaling a cigarette, complete with a tip that glows when
it heats up and an exhaled vapor cloud.
In the long run, e-cigarettes are arguably cheaper than regular
cigarettes. E-cigarettes are not taxed, and once you buy the
vaporization unit, all you need to purchase are refills.
Justin Paulson, regional manager of Electronic Cigarettes,
Inc., which has a kiosk at Crossgates Mall, has supported
an 18-year-old age cutoff all along, but opposes restricting
where his customers may “vape” (short for vaporize). The practice
has gained in popularity, and sales have steadily increased
over the past couple of years, said Paulson.
Tobacco is using lobbyists to make electronic cigarettes seem
worse than they are,” Paulson argued. “They don’t want to
see something like this come out.”
Electronic cigarette manufacturers worldwide claim that their
products are not harmful to smokers or those in their vicinity.
Nevertheless, some countries, including Canada and Australia,
have banned them altogether.
In the United States, e-cigarettes are not regulated by the
federal government. However, tests by the Food and Drug Administration
have found some of them to contain deadly substances, including
the obvious nicotine and the respiratory irritant dietylene
glycol, which has been linked to infection.
Action on Smoking and Health filed the first petition in the
country asking the FDA to begin treating e-cigarettes like
other nicotine-substitution products. In spite of testimonials
used in marketing, there is no way of knowing whether they
really help people quit smoking, whether they are safe for
consumers, or whether they emit the electronic equivalent
of secondhand smoke, said John Banzhaf III, special counsel
to the ASH.
Banzhaf, 70, a George Washington University law professor,
pioneered the anti-smoking and nonsmoker’s rights movements
and served as executive director of ASH until his recent retirement.
should be regulated,” he said. “These things are manufactured
over in China. They may not have the highest quality safety
standards. Simply having them on the market can increase the
number of deaths.”
By fostering and prolonging nicotine addiction, e-cigs could
wind up killing substantially more people than regular cigarettes,
he added. Statistically, more people die from heart attack
and stroke than all of the cancers, including lung cancer,
Another concern—which Albany County lawmakers attacked with
Local Law G—is that e-cigarettes will give youngsters a gateway
to the use of traditional cigarettes.
know from many studies that candy cigarettes preconditioned
kids to accept smoking and made them more likely to become
smokers,” Banzhaf said. “Here we have a product that comes
in kid-friendly flavors like strawberry, raspberry, lemon,
lime and orange. It’s attractive to kids who otherwise might
not start smoking. Once they’re addicted to nicotine, it’s
likely that they’ll wind up being smokers.”
Crisis to Opportunity
inaugurated Gov. Andrew Cuomo delivered his first State of
the State address yesterday (Wednesday, Jan. 5), promising
strategies to transform and rebuild a state in crisis—including
an emergency fiscal plan to address the $10 billion budget
deficit, the creation of the Spending and Government Efficiency
Commission to “rightsize government,” a “Clean Up Albany”
agenda of ethics reform, and performance-based school aid.
The location of the new executive’s anticipated address was
moved this year from the Assembly Chamber, where it has been
delivered to the Legislature for 86 years, to the Empire State
Plaza Convention Center. Speaking to members of the public
as well as state leaders, Cuomo articulated the administration’s
support for sustainable urban growth, consumer protections
and marriage equality for all New Yorkers, saying, “We must
turn this crisis into an opportunity to fundamentally remake
our state into the progressive capital of the nation.”
loose ends this week-