Assemblywoman Michaelle Solages and the New York Association of Convenience Stores (NYACS) today joined local Long Island community partners to call on the state to launch a coordinated enforcement effort to crack down on the sales of illegal flavored vape products that are ending up in the hands of youth across the state.
"Prohibition without enforcement does not work. We’ve banned the flavored disposable vapes on state and federal levels, but the data proves the ban alone has been ineffective in reducing youth access. In 2019, the Town of Hempstead passed legislation that prohibited the advertisement of vapes within 1,000 feet of schools, parks, playgrounds, and daycares. Three months later, Long Island hospitals reported seeing a spike in vaping cases, with at least 19 cases over just a few years. Government bans and public health do not stand a chance against the Black Market–we need to enact a government-led, industry supported, coordinated enforcement effort to combat this issue here on Long Island and across New York." stated Assemblymember Michaelle C. Solages.
“Even though flavored vape products have been banned in New York for years, they’re flooding our communities through black market channels and unscrupulous retailers,” said Kent Sopris, President of NYACS. “We need a coalition of state government agencies taking the lead to ramp up enforcement and bring businesses, health groups and law enforcement to the table to help in this effort.”
“We gladly welcome any effort to coordinate on eliminating the influx of illegal vapes continuously infiltrating our communities. Working together would provide strength in combating this problem.” stated law enforcement representative.
“Our communities already face too many dangers that we can’t control – here is an opportunity for the state and local organizations to work together to protect our youth from these harmful products and make our communities safer." stated the clergy.
NYACS, an organization that represents nearly 8,000 stores and more than 127,000 employees, has repeatedly called for the state to establish a fully funded education and enforcement initiative led by the Department of Health, NYS Education Department and the Department of Taxation and Finance.
In the face of limited state action, communities across New York are being forced to take matters into their own hands to fight the rise of illegal flavored vape use among teens. Westchester County kicked off its own enforcement campaign this summer targeting underage vape sales teamed with a public education campaign. The effort led to largest flavored vape bust in state history.
Additionally, in July New York City filed a first-of-its-kind federal RICO lawsuit against four major New York-based distributors of illicit flavored vapor products. These are companies right here fueling the problem.
While they may be well-intentioned, prohibition policies have created an even bigger problem for New Yorkers. Now, rather than being highly regulated and scrutinized by government agencies, illicit flavored vapor products are still readily available without any knowledge of what these products really are. Flavored vapes are being sold over the internet, on the street corner, out of backpacks and from pickup trucks. The flood of illegal vapes imported from China, in particular, is overwhelming our communities. And these Chinese companies are nimble and able to stay ahead of efforts to block their imports.
“If the state can launch an offensive against illegal marijuana sales like they did recently, there should be a similar effort to target this equally dangerous and illegal product,” Solages said.
Sopris added that no self-respecting store belonging to NYACS would sell flavored vapes (banned in NYS since 2020), and the retail community takes its responsibility very seriously by investing in age-verification training and technology to make sure that adult products are sold only to adults.