Long Island students join Sen. Schumer to push for national ban on flavored e-cigarettes

LAKE SUCCESS, Long Island (WABC) -- High school students joined Senator Charles Schumer Tuesday morning to call for a national ban on flavored e-cigarettes, on the same day that Governor Andrew Cuomo announced the first vaping-related death in New York state.

The students and Schumer gathered at William A. Shine Great Neck South High School on Long Island alongside the school's principal and health officials to talk about the dangers of flavored e-cigarettes and why the cause matters to them.

Schumer announced a bill called the Stopping Appealing Flavors in E-Cigarettes for Kids Act, or the SAFE Kids Act, that demands a federal ban of flavored vapes to protect kids and teens. He also called for the government to launch a campaign to raise awareness of e-cigarette use among young people.

Shortly after the press conference, Cuomo announced that a teenager from the Bronx was the first death associated with vaping in the state.

Cuomo only identified the victim as a 17-year-old from the Bronx, but called vaping a "public health crisis" that must be addressed.

With more than a quarter of New York high school students vaping, teens claim that they are lured in by the variety of flavors offered.

The bill is said to have strong backing from the public, especially parents. Schumer said his plan would begin to fix the youth e-cigarette epidemic on Long Island and across New York State.

Health officials say more than 100 New Yorkers have gotten sick from vaping-related causes. These cases are part of the nationwide growing concern of the vaping epidemic, which is said to be the cause behind 19 deaths in the U.S. so far.

Amid the epidemic, Schumer has pushed the FDA to act on the harms of vaping, and New York State has announced a ban on flavored e-cigarettes. However, the bill has been halted for the time being.

While public health officials haven't identified a single culprit in the more than 1,000 cases of vaping-related lung injuries, officials say many of the people who have become sick reported vaping THC.

E-cigarettes and other vaping devices have exploded on the market since they first started gaining popularity in 2007. And the sheer number and variety of products in the retail market as well as the black market, including products containing THC, have made determining the cause of the disease outbreak that much more difficult.

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