FULTON – Governor Andrew Cuomo announced today, Wednesday Sept. 18, there is a ban on the sale of flavored electronic cigarettes and nicotine e-liquids in New York state, which will directly impact three businesses in Fulton.
Richard Dechick, owner of Vape Kult, strongly opposes this ban for multiple reasons. His business, which opened in 2014, has locations in Fulton, Auburn, Clyde and Cortland, and revolves around the now banned products. He has eight employees for these shops.
“I’m now put in a position where I’m trying to explain this to my employees, explain this to the public. He dumped that on me,” Dechick said. “If you were me and you had to tell your employees, ‘Oh, well there’s a possibility you’re not going to have a job,’ that alone destroys the business.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is currently investigating an outbreak of lung disease associated with vaping, including e-liquids containing nicotine, THC and CBD. As of today, the CDC reported at least 380 cases of lung illness reported from 36 states and 1 U.S. territory. A seventh death was confirmed Monday.
“We do not yet know the specific cause of these illnesses. The investigation has not identified any specific e-cigarette or vaping product (devices, liquids, refill pods, and/or cartridges) or substance that is linked to all cases,” according to the CDC.
Dechick said the recent deaths across the U.S. had more to do with THC cartridges than regular nicotine vaping products.
“And now he wants to ban e-liquids. The two don’t go together. He used his abuse of power to go after e-liquids when e-liquids has nothing to do with it,” Dechick said. “That’s the problem – unregulated [THC] cartridges. It’s going to make a black market for e-liquid and you’re going to have people dying from that.”
The largest reason for Cuomo’s ban is due to marketing to minors.
“It is undeniable that vaping companies are deliberately using flavors like bubblegum, Captain Crunch and cotton candy to get young people hooked on e-cigarettes – it’s a public health crisis and it ends today,” Cuomo said in a press release.
“It’s got nothing to do with the kids,” Dechick said. “The kids are going to be okay. Nobody sells to kids.”
There is an age requirement for people visiting Vape Kult’s website to be 18 or over and it is illegal to sell these products to people under 18.
Dechick said with the ban of e-cigarettes, people will go back to smoking cigarettes. He said he does not understand why tobacco has not been banned because it is proven to kill people every day. According to the CDC, about 1,300 people in the U.S. die every day due to cigarette smoking.
There is a two week grace period before the ban is enforced on retailers, beginning Oct. 7. After that there can be fines up to $2,000, “which is defined as each unit of flavored e-liquid or product containing e-liquid that is possessed, manufactured, sold or offered for sale.” Dechick said there is nothing he can do to prepare for this except hope there will be enough backlash to change it.
Dechick said the root of the problem is Cuomo’s “abuse of power.” He said there should have been a vote regarding the ban rather than an executive order without warning.
“Who is he to make that judgement call? We don’t live in a dictatorship. Five deaths from something that’s not even relevant to what he’s banning, it’s … insane,” Dechick said.