TOWN OF LERAY, N.Y. (WWNY) - A local vaping advocate says banning flavored products could mean hundreds of vape shops closing their doors and thousands of people losing their jobs. So the industry is taking action.
Matthew Hummell of Massena used to smoke a couple packs of cigarettes a day; vaping flavored e-liquid helped him quit.
"I have a couple of favorites that do help me get the edge off and at the same time it tastes really good."
But those products might not be available in New York much longer. As part of the state's response to more than 450 vaping-related illnesses and 5 deaths in the country, Governor Cuomo announced Monday that he would be advancing new legislation to ban flavored e-cigarettes.
"It's attracting thousands of young people to an activity," he said.
But Matthew Salter, general manager of local Clouds Over vape shops and owner of an e-liquid compliance company says flavored nicotine products aren't what's causing people to get sick. He says its black market THC cartridges that contain vitamin E acetate.
Salter says the ban could be coming in the next week or two. He says there’s been a leak from Governor Cuomo’s office that the governor would ban the products through issuing an executive order. If that’s true, it would bypass the legislative process.
"The second it comes out and it's signed, we have 30 days that's it. That's all we get. There's no chance to go and rally, there's no chance to have our legislators hear us. He bypasses all of that and we're done for," said Salter.
Salter says a ban would be bad news. He says flavored e-liquid is 95 percent of vape shops' business.
"We're gone - 700 vape shops with over 3,000 employees - literally overnight we will be wiped out of existence," said Salter.
The vaping industry is fighting back. The New York Vapers Association is urging people to call the governor’s office. There are also lawsuits being filed.
"I know personally of about 4 different lawsuits being filed. We're active fund raising for them. Governor Cuomo thinks we're going to roll down and take this and he's absolutely wrong. We're going to fight for this."
Salter says a ban could lead to unsafe alternatives, an illegal underground market, people making the product at home or worse, people like Hummell going back to smoking cigarettes.
"I really hope that we get to keep the flavors," said Hummell. "On some days I would probably end up going back to smoking 2 packs a day because it's hard to quit. It's hard to quit without having something to replace it."
As for if Governor Cuomo will issue an executive order to ban the products, we asked his office. Spokesman for the governor Jason Conwall said that’s not true. He said advancing legislation does not mean an executive order.