Albany – Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz (D-Bronx) has announced that he is sponsoring new legislation in the Assembly, A.8594, which would classify e-cigarette cartridges, which are filled with nicotine and other unknown chemicals, as tobacco products under New York state law and tax them accordingly. The bill has been referred to the Assembly Ways and Means Committee.
“It’s about time we start acknowledging the reality of these nicotine filled products and the unregulated nature of this potentially hazardous industry,” said Assemblyman Dinowitz.
In recent years New York lawmakers have begun tackling the litany of health issues associated with electronic cigarettes, which have grown in popularity as an alternative to regular cigarettes, by prohibiting their sale to minors and banning them from public indoor use in New York City. Legislation calling for a similar ban of indoor use statewide is also being pursued.
Although New York is taking a proactive approach to regulating e-cigarette products, a national standard for their regulation has yet to be determined. In December 2010, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit issued a decision stating e-cigarettes and other products “made or derived from tobacco” should be regulated as tobacco products by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) under the Tobacco Control Act. In spite of the court’s decision, the FDA has yet to rule on the regulation of these products on a national level. If passed, New York will join Minnesota in classifying cartridges that contain nicotine and other harmful chemicals as tobacco products.
“E-cigarettes aren’t the safe alternative the industry makes them out to be,” Dinowitz said. “It’s a product that contains nicotine as well as other unknown chemicals and therefore should fall into the same category as other tobacco products, including being taxed as a tobacco product. These devices are marketed as smoking cessation tools, when in actuality they are anything but. New York has always been a leader among states and this is no exception. We will not wait around for the federal government to act.”
Tobacco control organizations are also concerned about the noticeable similarities between e-cigarettes and regular cigarettes, especially as it pertains to their shared appearance. E-cigarettes are designed to look just like regular cigarettes, creating the potential to lure young teens in with the false promise that they can smoke without the normally associated health risks. Acting as something of a nicotine gateway, these e-cigarettes may lead to an increase in nicotine addiction among younger users, which could in turn also result in an increase in regular cigarette smoking.