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Hempstead Takes Lead In Aiming To Ban Sale Of Flavored Vaping Products

HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) -- Officials have moved to ban certain vaping products that critics say are getting kids sick.

Lawmakers in the Town of Hempstead said it is a call to arms, CBS2's Carolyn Gusoff reported.

Hempstead wants to be the first municipality on Long Island, but not the last, to ban the sale of flavored vaping products.

The legislation was introduced on Tuesday.

"Banning the use of flavors to make it seem like it's fun, like you're having bubble gum when you're vaping, is what gets our children hooked on these devices at a very young age," Hempstead Supervisor Laura Gillen said.

The united front in Hempstead included bipartisan leaders, doctors and parents, all supporting a ban of the flavored e-cigarette products they say get kids hooked on nicotine and may be responsible for a recent rise in vaping-related illnesses.

"As of August, (there have been) 215 cases across this country of severe lung damage caused by lung damage," Nassau County Executive Laura Curran said.

Two teenagers were treated by NYU Winthrop Hospital's Dr. Melodi Pirzada. One of them was near death.

"He ended up in the intensive care unit and he was on full life support," Dr. Pirzada said.

Both boys survived, but Dr. Pirzada said both used e-cigarettes to vape THC.

"We ruled out all the other causes," she said.

MOREFeds Probing Potential Links Between Vaping, Lung Illnesses

Laurie Ann Davis' teenage son was recently diagnosed with a mysteriously low heart rate.

"He almost describes like a heart attack, a pressure on his chest, a pressure on his side," she said. "He feels nauseous, dizzy. He can't breathe."

Statistics show 3.6 million high school and middle school students are using e-cigarettes, and Hempstead officials say if one municipality passes the ban, others will follow to make an impact before students are hopelessly hooked.

"There is nothing regulated about this. They are chemicals that people should not be getting exposed to. They are super-heated oils. We do not want children thinking that these flavor things are not going to hurt them," said Dr. David Neubert of NYU Winthrop.

"Kids don't get that they are ingesting not only enormous amounts of nicotine, but known toxins," added Meridith Berkman, co-founder of the group Parents Against Vaping E-Cigs.

Town Of Hempstead Calls For Banning Sale Of E-Cigarettes

Last week, Kevin Burns, the CEO of JUUL, said the recent health cases involving vaping are "worrisome" and had a message to consumers.

"Don't vape. Don't use JUUL," Burns said. "Don't start using nicotine if you don't have a preexisting relationship with nicotine. Don't use the product. You're not our target consumer."

In a statement, JUUL says its product is targeted at getting adults off nicotine, not teenagers:

We have never marketed to youth, do not sell flavors like cotton candy or bubble gum, and strongly advocated for tobacco 21 legislation here in New York," Juul said in a statement Tuesday. "In November 2018, we stopped selling non-tobacco and non-menthol-based flavors to traditional retail stores, which represented 50% of our revenue at that time. All of our non-traditional tobacco-flavored pods are now exclusively sold through our e-commerce platform, which features an industry-leading, third-party, age-verification system that puts every purchase through a rigorous, multi-step process to ensure that the customer is 21 or older and restricts bulk purchasing. We offer these products in this limited, secure way because they play an important role in helping smokers switch by providing users with a taste and aroma different than traditional tobacco.

We will continue to lead the industry and support industry-wide actions to reverse the trend in youth use, while preserving this unprecedented opportunity for adult smokers, and we will continue to work with New York policymakers in a transparent and collaborative fashion to achieve that goal.

Hempstead officials, however, don't buy it. They want their flavor ban to be passed county-wide and beyond.

The town will vote on the ban on Sept. 24.

The city of Boulder, Colo. passed a similar ban last week.

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