WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWNY) - North country vape shops can continue to sell flavored products - for now. A judge has blocked a ban, but the vaping industry is not in the clear yet.
When Governor Cuomo announced a ban on flavored e-cigarette and e-liquid products, it hit local vape shops hard. Just ask Matthew Salter, the general manager of local Clouds Over vape shops.
"We went from 9 stores down to 4. We went from 33 employees down to 7 or 8. Our company alone lost a lot just because of what he's done," said Salter.
But now a judge has blocked that ban, ruling that a state health council overstepped its authority when it issued it last September. The judge said regulating the vaping industry is a job for the state legislature, not the executive branch.
"It's a huge weight off our shoulders," said Salter.
But, the fight isn't over. Governor Cuomo has said he will push for a ban through legislation. It's one of his 2020 State of the State proposals.
"Let's pass a clear, strict law restricting the sale of flavored e-cigarettes, restricting advertisements, and banning dangerous chemicals or products. Let's do it the first thing this session, let's sign it and let's make it a reality," said Cuomo.
There are already bills in the Senate and Assembly that would get the ban done. State Senator Patty Ritchie voted in favor of the bill in a health committee vote on Tuesday.
Assemblyman Mark Walczyk says he's concerned about teens using e-cigarettes but also that he needs more details on the proposed ban.
"It's tough to commit to a vote before you see any of the details, certainly. I know that we need to protect our youth and there needs to be a clear message to our youth that these products can be very unsafe, but at the same time I need to see a full proposal before I vote on it," said Walczyk (R. - 116th District).
Salter says it's encouraging that a potential ban is being done through the legislature this time. He's having people at his shop sign petitions to bring to elected officials.
"It allows us to actually engage our Senators and Assemblymen, it allows the people of New York state who believe in this harm reduction alternative to meet with their elected officials and to actually tell them, hey, look, don't ban my adult access, my adult right to a less harmful alternative," said Salter. "We've beaten a flavor ban legislatively the last 4 to 5 years running so we're really ready for it."
We reached out to the Governor’s office for comment on the ban being blocked, but we didn’t hear back.