LITTLE VALLEY — A proposed law to ban flavored e-cigarette “juice” was tabled by the Cattaraugus County Legislature’s Human Services Committee on Wednesday.

Human Services Committee Deputy Chairman Barbara J. Hastings, D-Allegany, called the meeting to order and immediately called for an executive session to discuss potential litigation.

After the closed-door executive session, Hastings, a former county public health director, reconvened the meeting in open session and announced she would table both the local law and an accompanying public hearing.

Two representatives of companies that sold the flavored e-juice health officials blame for the rise in youth nicotine addiction attended the meeting, hoping to make a presentation. They left after the local law was tabled.

Hastings declined to discuss what was said in the executive session.

“It was my prerogative,” Hastings said afterward of her decision to table the local law. “We feel it is better to wait. The timing is bad. The State Legislature is expected to address the issue in the spring.”

Hastings said she was unaware of any threats of lawsuits against the county over the proposed ban on flavored e-cigarette liquids.

Committee Chairman Donna Vickman, R-Farmersville, did not attend due to health reasons.

Besides Hastings and Vickman, the County Legislature majority leader, other sponsors include: Legislature Chairman James J. Snyder, R-Olean; Norman Marsh, R-Little Valley; Minority Leader Susan Labuhn, D-Salamanca and Richard Helmich, R-Delevan.

The county Board of Health voted last month to recommend county lawmakers enact a ban on flavored e-cigarette liquids which they associate with the surge in teen nicotine addiction due to vaping.

According to the language of the new proposed law, an amendment to a 2015 law, several determinations were made:

  • The Legislature hereby finds that many e-cigarette and liquid nicotine products come in flavors that are attractive to young people, such as cherry, fruit punch, chocolate and cola.
  • The Legislature also finds that recent studies by the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show a marked increase in the use of e-cigarettes and liquid nicotine by middle and high school students. In the past year, the percentage of middle school students using e-cigarettes has increased by 50%, with use by high school students increasing by 80%.
  • The Legislature determines that the most commonly cited reasons for using e-cigarettes among both youth and young adults are curiosity, fruit and candy flavorings offered by liquid nicotine manufacturers and the low perceived harm compared to other tobacco products.
  • The Legislature finds that limiting liquid nicotine to tobacco flavor available for purchase would reduce children’s interest in using these products while allowing adults the option to continuing e-cigarettes as a replacement for traditional tobacco products or for smoking cessation purposes.
  • The Legislature further finds that major e-cigarette and liquid nicotine manufacturers, such as Juul, are voluntarily removing fruit and candy based flavors from their product offerings as a means to reduce their improper use by children.
  • The Legislature determines that Cattaraugus County should limit the sale and distribution of e-cigarettes and flavored liquid nicotine to tobacco flavor to combat the rising tide of liquid nicotine use by minors.

(Contact reporter Rick Miller at rmiller@oleantimesherald.com. Follow him on Twitter, @RMillerOTH)