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State Takes Aggressive Action To Counter Emerging Vape Crisis

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Governor Cuomo yesterday (September 9) directed the Department of Health to launch an investigation into companies associated with the recent nationwide spike in reports of lung illnesses, and even deaths, linked to vaping.

The Department has been ordered to issue subpoenas to three companies identified as marketing and selling harmful “thickening agents” on the black market, along with emergency regulations requiring all vape and smoke shops in NY to post warning signs on the vape products.

Additionally, the Governor announced that he will advance new legislation to ban flavored e-cigarettes.

“Common sense says if you do not know what you are smoking, don’t smoke it, and right now we don’t know what you are smoking in a lot of these vaping substances,” Governor Cuomo said. “The rise in vaping-associated illnesses is a frightening public health phenomenon and I am directing the Department of Health to take several actions to address this crisis. In the meantime our advice is quite simple: don’t do it because we don’t know if it’s safe.”

According to Department of Health data, nearly 40% of 12th grade students and 27% of high school students in New York State are now using e-cigarettes, and this increase is largely driven by flavored e-liquids.

High school use in 2018 (27.4%) is 160 percent higher than it was in 2014 (10.5%).

While New York’s high school student smoking rate dropped from 27.1% in 2000 to a record low of 4.3% in 2016, aggressive marketing promoting flavored e-cigarettes stands to turn that trend.

Studies show nearly 78% of high school students, and 75% of middle school students report being exposed to pro-tobacco marketing in 2016.

The Health Department has identified three companies that market thickening agents online to companies that manufacture vape liquids, falsely claiming they’re a cheaper, safer alternative that does not negatively impact flavoring or odor of products and can be used to cut vape products to any level of THC.

Companies and products on the list of subpoenas include the following:

  • Honey Cut Diluting Agent by Honey Cut Labs LLC in Santa Monica, California
  • Uber Thick by Floraplex Terpenes in Ypsilanti, Michigan
  • Pure Diluent by Mass Terpenes in Amherst, Massachusetts.

These are the first three companies to be subpoenaed, but health officials say more are likely to be ordered to provide samples as the investigation continues.

Laboratory results have shown very high levels of vitamin E acetate in nearly all cannabis-containing samples analyzed by the Wadsworth Center.

Vitamin E acetate is a commonly available nutritional supplement that is not known to cause harm when ingested as a vitamin supplement or applied to the skin. However, the Department continues to investigate its health effects when inhaled because its oil-like properties could be associated with the observed respiratory symptoms.

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