New York directs insurance companies to cover costs of quitting vaping

NEW YORK (WABC) -- The state of New York is taking another step to address the nationwide vaping crisis.

Under orders from Governor Andrew Cuomo, the state Department of Financial Services is directing state insurers to cover treatment for people trying to quit vaping.

Under the order insurers must provide treatment without requiring a co-pay, co-insurance or deductible.

Insurers will have to use the same treatments recommended for quitting smoking.

"E-cigarette use has exploded in recent years and many of the people who want to quit are now having trouble because vaping is more addicting than they previously thought," Governor Cuomo said. "New Yorkers trying to stop vaping need access to treatment, and this action will require insurance companies to provide the same coverage they would for smoking cessation to anyone seeking to stop using e-cigarettes."

As of December 3, 2019, 2,291 cases of e-cigarette-associated lung injury had been reported to the Centers for Disease Control from 50 states, and 48 deaths have been confirmed in 25 states, including in New York.

A second death in the state due to a vaping-associated illness was reported on November 20.

The first vaping-related death occurred on October 4, involving a 17-year-old teenager from the Bronx. The state said the teen had been hospitalized in early September for a respiratory illness related to vaping.

Meanwhile, New York's ban on flavored e-cigarettes is still held up in court, but the state is moving to keep it alive and could also expand it to include menthol.

The state's Public Health and Health Planning Council voted Thursday to keep the emergency ban on the books for another 90 days.

The council had approved the ban in September, but a state appeals court blocked the state from enforcing it in October.

Critics sued the state over the ban, calling it governmental overreach that would hurt small businesses. Some adult smokers said flavors help them quit.

(The Associated Press contributed to this story.)

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