While the studies continue on the health risks of electronic cigarettes, one thing is clear: The law.
The sale to anyone under 18 is illegal and their use is banned in places where smoking is banned — including within 100 feet of schools or public buildings.
But stroll into one of the many “vape” shops that have opened across the borough, and chances are good you’ll find high school kids.
One owner actually said that he was aware he was breaking the law by allowing the youngsters to hang out and puff, but thought it was better than having them out on the street.
That’s why it was not surprising to get a letter from a very passionate Staten Islander who signed it: “A concerned parent who is on a mission.”
And that mission is to crack down on stores and vape shops that sell to minors.
“The strict parent that I am, I was floored over my child’s choice and this issue has been discussed and resolved…”
But, she added, “I surely know I am not the only one out there.”
She pointed out that she spotted some of the young customers arrive in school uniforms.
THE HEALTH ISSUE
E-cigs are considered by the federal Food and Drug Administration to be a “tobacco product” because they often — but not always — contain nicotine.
The e-cig industry has maintained that the products are not smoking cessation devices, but are a “healthier alternative” to smoking.
And many smokers have switched from their traditional brands to the electronic version citing that rationale.
But opponents point out that the flavors now being marketed — everything from cotton candy to cappuccino — are aimed at hooking a young market on nicotine.
While the health risks of e-cigarettes are still being evaluated, the American Cancer Society, the American Lung Association, the American Heart Association and the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids want them prohibited.
THE FDA RAISES RED FLAG
While an outright ban is extreme, last Thursday the Food and Drug Administration announced new safety reviews and a federal ban on selling e-cigarettes, cigars and other tobacco products to anyone under 18.
But House Republicans want to exempt the increasingly popular e-cigarette. The effort alarmed Democrats and public health advocates, the Associated Press reported.
Legislation approved by a House committee last month would prevent the FDA from requiring retroactive safety reviews of e-cigarettes already on the market and exempt some premium and large cigars from those same regulations. E-cigarette products introduced in the future would face the safety reviews.
Vaping and cigar companies have pushed for the exemptions, arguing that their products are safer than cigarettes and even help some cigarette smokers quit. They say many of the small businesses that make their products would suffer once the rules are in place.
While the jury is still out on health impact and the debate continues in Washington, the verdict is in on regulation in New York, and — now — nationwide.
So, abide by it.