Spending few moments in ethical clashes or political controversy, Gov. Andrew Cuomo did something Monday to benefit public health. He ordered a statewide ban on the sale of flavored e-cigarettes, which are suspected of causing a mysterious debilitating respiratory illness.
Six people have died nationwide and their deaths seem to have been caused by a respiratory illness thought to be related to vaping.
No deaths have been reported in New York state, but Cuomo isn’t taking any chances. Forty-one people in the state have fallen ill. Doctors have said that many patients suffering from acute lung disorders appear to have vaped some THC or cannabis-related products, although others have reported using e-cigarettes.
No e-cigarette companies have been accused of wrongdoing in connection with the illnesses or deaths and no local cases have been reported.
Cuomo’s executive order Monday backs up legislation he signed last week expanding school-based educational programs about the dangers of tobacco use and vaping and follows up on an executive order, also from last week, halting e-cigarette advertising aimed at young people.
Joining the fight are the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta. Officials urged nonsmokers and teenagers not to start smoking e-cigarettes. And the CDC has recommended that cigarette smokers trying to quit should consult a doctor rather than take up e-cigarettes as an alternative.
The governor’s executive orders, the reports of deaths and illnesses and the CDC’s strong recommendations should be a wake-up call for people, especially young people, to quit e-cigarettes immediately or heed the warnings and don’t start at all.