As a father, I am still in shock over one aspect of the state budget. The New York state Legislature and Gov. Andrew Cuomo took the side of the tobacco industry over my child.
That’s right — e-cigarette companies are the real winners in the state budget, not kids or health. Because of their powerful lobbyists in Albany, the proposal to include e-cigarettes in the state’s Clean Indoor Air Act was removed at the last minute from the budget.
The state’s Clean Indoor Air Act protects all of us from secondhand smoke, but there is a loophole. E-cigarettes are not included — simply because they didn’t exist when the law was passed. This change is long overdue. The U.S. Surgeon General has reported e-cigarette aerosol is not harmless.
Putting the interests of Big Tobacco and e-cigarette companies over our kids is shameful. Over 20 percent of New York high school students now use e-cigarette products. Are lawmakers and the governor simply going to look the other way while our kids are targeted? It’s a shame the e-cigarette industry holds such sway over elected officials.
I will be reaching out to my lawmaker, Assemblyman Phil Steck, to urge him to tell state legislative leaders to pick kids over tobacco and close the e-cigarette loophole. I urge others to do the same.