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Council Speaker Corey Johnson backs ban on flavored Juul pods and other e-cigarettes


A Juul vaping system with accessory pods in varying flavors. (Bill O'Leary/The Washington Post/Getty Images)

Corey Johnson wants to stub out flavored e-cigarettes.

The council speaker said he backs legislation that would ban the sale of the sweet-smelling vape pens in the city.

“Ultimately these flavored e-cigarettes, these Juul packets are being targeted towards children in a way that it becomes a gateway to real cigarettes if you’re young enough,” Johnson said on NY1 Thursday night.

E-cigs have concentrated doses of nicotine, which can cause addiction and harm developing adolescent brains, according to the U.S. Surgeon General.

Vaping and e-cig use among New York youth jumped 160% between 2014 and 2018, according to the state Health Department. Use among high school students in the state has grown from 10.5% in 2014 to 27.4% last year.

The legislation from Councilman Mark Levine (D-Manhattan) would prohibit New York City retailers from selling Juul pods or other e-cigs and cartridges flavored with any fruit, chocolate, vanilla, honey, candy, cocoa, dessert, alcoholic beverage, herb, spice, mint or menthol.

Supporters of the ban say flavors are intended to encourage e-cig use among young people. One study last year showed teens between 15 and 17 years old were 16 times more likely to be current Juul users than those between 25 and 34 years old.

Johnson himself started using Juul about 130 days ago to help kick his decade-long habit of smoking a pack of cigarettes a day.

“I’m not proud of my Juul,” Johnson said during the NY1 appearance, pulling his vape pen out of his pocket. “It’s a bridge hopefully for me to ultimately be totally nicotine free. But I think it’s better than the tars and carcinogens that are in the cigarettes that I was smoking every day.”

Johnson said he uses tobacco and mint flavored Juul pods.

“Under this bill that would be eliminated, there would be no mint available,” he said. “When that happens, hopefully…there will be no more Juul in my pocket.”