Sale of flavored e-cigarettes, tobacco at pharmacies ended May 18 in New York state

The sale of flavored e-cigarettes ended in New York state May 18, as does the sale of all tobacco products in pharmacies. These are huge steps forward in helping New Yorkers live free from nicotine addiction.

The new laws were passed as part of the state’s fiscal year 2021 budget. New York becomes the second state in the nation to restrict the sale of tobacco products in pharmacies.

Amélie Rohlin, Reality Check Youth Leader, responded to the news.

“I feel that the laws prohibiting tobacco sales in pharmacies and about the sale ban of vape flavoring are a great idea,” she said. “Kids and teenagers are drawn in by the flavors that are being advertised to them. Pharmacies are meant for people to get the medicine they need to get better, and when people see something like that in a place of wellness it can lead them to believe that those products will help them get well.”

Research shows that the flavors in e-cigarettes attract kids and the nicotine addicts them.[i] Nearly 40 percent of high school seniors in New York state use e-cigarettes, also referred to as “vaping,” and 27 percent of all high school youth vape.[ii]  This new law ending the sale of flavored e-cigarettes in New York state will protect kids from a lifetime of nicotine addiction.

Selling tobacco products in pharmacies has long sent a contradictory message to consumers by offering tobacco alongside medicine or products for illnesses either caused by or made worse by smoking. That ends now in New York state. It also reduces the number of stores that sell tobacco products in every community, an effective way of supporting tobacco users who want to quit and reducing youth exposure to tobacco marketing. There is overwhelming evidence that the more young people see tobacco, the more likely they are to start smoking.[iii]

“As a registered respiratory therapist for more than 30 years, I have witnessed the devastating effects that smoking has had on people of all ages, and endorse efforts to keep these harmful products from being purchased, in particular by young people,“ said  state Assemblyman John Salka.

In Herkimer County, the village of Dolgeville enacted a local law to protect their youth and community from tobacco marketing, and these state laws help to support and strengthen their commitment to health.

For help quitting smoking or vaping, including free nicotine replacement therapy for eligible residents, individuals can contact a health care provider, call the state Smokers’ Quitline at 866-NY-QUITS or visit Effective medications and counseling are covered by Medicaid and most insurance programs.

Tobacco Free New York State and Reality Check student groups around the state have worked tirelessly to educate local communities about the need to protect children from the billions of dollars of tobacco marketing in places where kids can see it. The statewide “Seen Enough Tobacco” initiative is focused on putting an end to youth smoking and other tobacco use. The average age of a new smoker in New York is 13 years old,[iv] and 90 percent of adult smokers say they first tried smoking by age 18.[v] Tobacco Free New York State, including the Reality Check student youth groups, is part of the NYS Tobacco Control Program.   

[i] Flavored Tobacco Products Attract Kids: Brief Overview of Key Issues, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, Dec. 2019,

[ii] NYS Dept. of Health, Bureau of Tobacco Control, StatShot Vol. 12, No. 4/Oct 2019, Trends in Electronic Cigarette Use Among High School Youth NYS-YTS 2014-2018:

[iii] A Report of the Surgeon General: Preventing Tobacco Use Among Youth and Young Adults “Executive Summary” 2012, p. 1, 3:

[iv] Information about Tobacco Use, Smoking and Secondhand Smoke,

[v] A Report of the Surgeon General “The Health Consequences of Smoking—50 Years of Progress” 2014, p. 12, 696, 708:

By martha

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