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Mayor Adams sues companies illegally distributing flavored vapes to minorities

@nycmayor | Instagram

New York City’s Corporation Counsel Sylvia Hinds-Radix and New York City Mayor Eric Adams made a public health and law enforcement announcement in a press conference on April 4, where they announced a lawsuit against 11 wholesalers regarding the “illegal sale and shipment of flavored disposable cigarettes.” 

This form of action is not the first attempt by the government to address the ongoing issue. 

The NYC Health Department has provided laws and regulations for the legal sale of tobacco and e-cigarettes. However, distributors have continued to break legislation for profit. 

“For too long, Black and Brown communities face high rates of drug-related incarceration through the discriminatory ‘war on drugs’ and have been denied opportunities to build wealth,” Adams said

“Now they have a chance to get in on the cannabis industry from the ground up but in order to support the legal market, we have to address the illegal market and shut down bad actors like these 11 wholesalers selling illegal products. You’re seeing these illegal shops all over our city. Our goal is to partner with our lawmakers to shut them down.”

Nicotine, the addictive chemical found in many of these e-cigarette devices, poses a threat to the health and safety of children. 

Certain products sold, but not limited to, include JUULs, vape pens and e-cigars. Flavored disposable e-cigarettes have been rampant in popularity among younger audiences. According to the New York State Department of Health, nicotine disrupts the developing brains of young people, which can “lead to lower impulse control and mood disorders, disrupt attention and learning among youth and young adults, and increase the risk for future addiction to other drugs.”

Adams further claimed that these types of businesses “target young people by using colorful child-friendly cartoon character packaging” and “sell flavors like strawberry colada, mellow mint, blueberry energized and frozen creamsicle that are designed to tempt young people.” 

At the press conference, Vonetta Dudley, the director of NYC Smoke-Free at Public Health Solutions, stated that apart from the youth, these businesses also target African Americans and members of the LGBTQIA+ community.

This lawsuit is part of one the commitments Adams proposed earlier this year in his ‘future-focused vision’ to make NYC safer. 

Judge Sylvia Hines-Radix requests for the New York County State Supreme Court to permanently prohibit the 11 wholesalers from violating the laws pertaining to the illegal sale of flavored e-cigarettes, prohibit the shipping of unauthorized products to anyone who is not legally allowed to receive them, call for defendants to admit that their actions have created a public nuisance and require the defendants to take measures to stop it.

When questioned whether the money gained from monetary damages would go towards enforcement and education, Adams proposed a program set up in a school or classroom setting to educate the youth about the harmful effects of nicotine addiction on the body.

“We need to continue pushing education to ensure our youth learn the truth and dangers of using these products,” Dudley said.

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