New York state budget deletes controversial vape laws
Vapers in New York state have been braced for the worst over the last few weeks as Governor Andrew Cuomo prepared to bring in a series of harsh restrictions as part of his new budget package. Among other things, Cuomo planned to:
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- Impose a tax of 40 cents per ml of e-liquid – almost doubling the price of the average bottle
- Ban vaping in all places where smoking isn’t allowed
- Make it an offence, punishable by a fine, for consumers to carry more than 100ml of e-liquid
- Banning sales of vapour products to under-21s
Governor Cuomo’s sister Margaret is a celebrity doctor, and in 2016 she became notorious among vapers after making a video for the Huffington Post claiming that vaping is “at least” as dangerous as smoking. Until the weekend it looked as if Cuomo was going to use the budget to push his sister’s anti-vaping agenda.
However, in a surprise move, last week Cuomo announced that he would delay the budget deadline until the end of May following discussions in the state legislature. It’s been speculated that opposition, including a well-run campaign by the New York State Vapor Association, could have been giving legislators second thoughts about the tough new laws.
Now sources within the legislature have told NYSVA that the anti-vaping provisions have been cut from the budget. Initially the 40 cent tax was revised down to 10 cents and the other measures scrapped; now it seems that the reduced tax has been eliminated, too. If this holds until the final version of the budget it will be a major victory for the state’s vapers.
Free market think tank takes on US flight vaping ban
The USA is “leading the world” by imposing a total vaping ban on passenger aircraft since March 2016 – a move that’s caused a lot of resentment, as there’s no reason to think vaping on a flight poses any risk to other passengers. Now the controversial legislation is being challenged by the Competitive Enterprise Institute, a libertarian think tank.
CEI argues that the Department of Transportation has no right to impose their ban. The DOT says that it’s acting under a 1989 Congressional authority to ban in-flight smoking, but the department admits that e-cigarettes don’t produce smoke. CEI says this means they can’t be included in the ban and accuses the DOT of rewriting federal law to suit themselves.
Last April CEI, along with CASAA, filed a lawsuit challenging the DOT’s vaping ban. On Monday the case moved forward as the CEI’s legal team argued their case in court. While a victory probably wouldn’t change much for flyers – most airlines had already banned in-flight vaping anyway – it would be a block in the way of legislators who want to bring vaping under existing smoking laws.
Australian study claims vaping in pregnancy causes infant asthma
Scientists at the University of Technology, Sydney claim to have found evidence that vaping during pregnancy increases the risk of allergic asthma in newborn children. The work has been seized on by the Thoracic Society of Australia and New Zealand, who have campaigned against the legalisation of nicotine e-liquids in both countries.
One obvious problem with the study is that it doesn’t compare the alleged effects of vaping during pregnancy with the known effects of smoking. Very few vapers are never-smokers, and the evidence shows that women who vape during pregnancy would otherwise have been smoking – with a much greater risk.
The study is also based on mice and cell cultures, and doesn’t necessarily translate to humans at all. Without more research in a more realistic scenario it doesn’t actually tell us anything useful. However, TSANZ president Professor Peter Gibson is using it to argue against lifting the nicotine ban – which New Zealand recently decided to do, although Australia insists on keeping it in place for now.
CDC report finds vaping is popular quit method, but downplays importance
The latest figures from the CDC show that switching to vaping is now the most popular quit method in the USA after cold turkey or gradually cutting down – making it more popular than all FDA-approved quit aids. Despite the impressive numbers CDC still say that more research is needed into the effectiveness of vaping.