Governor Andrew Cuomo announced an emergency executive order on Sunday which would prohibit the sale of almost all flavored e-cigarettes in New York State. Once he signs it, which he is expected to do after a public council completes its review in the next 14 days, local Juulers will only be able to buy menthol and tobacco flavored vape cartridges.

"Vaping is dangerous, period," Cuomo said at a press conference on Sunday, an event intended to cut through the "confusion" and "hype" surrounding the question of vape safety. "At a minimum it is addicting young people to nicotine at a very early age," the governor explained, emphasizing the lack of long-term research on what "inhaling steam and chemicals deep into your lungs" does to the body over time.

And then, there's the separate issue of unregulated, "counterfeit" products, which appear to have sickened more than 450 people and killed another six nationwide. Preliminary analysis suggests the mysterious lung disease may result from Vitamin E acetate used as a thickening agent in some bootleg cartridges, most of which contain THC. Last week, with dozens of New Yorkers sickened by the vape-related lung disease, Cuomo subpoenaed three companies believed to be selling Vitamin E-contaminated products. Without definitive answers on prospective culprits, and with scant information on the eventual effects of vaping, concern is growing among consumers and government officials alike.

Still, Cuomo begrudgingly acknowledged that vaping does help some addicted smokers quit when things like patches and lozenges and gum can't. For that reason, menthol and tobacco will remain on the market — for now.

American Lung Association President Harold Wimmer believes that however "well-intentioned" Cuomo's measure may be, it still represents a missed "opportunity to take decisive action" because it leaves menthol on the table, and menthol might appeal to a teenage palate. Asked about that possible loophole on WNYC's Brian Lehrer show on Monday, Cuomo said menthol would remain under review, but the most immediate problem was manufacturers' targeting of teens with vape juice that tastes like "bubble gum, cotton candy, [and] Scooby Doo."

The only reason he and Health Commissioner Howard Zucker are not banning menthol is because the flavor appears to help a "very limited pool" of menthol cigarette smokers quit, Cuomo explained at his press conference, and the only reason they aren't banning vapes outright is that they appear to be marginally better for you than smoking. For some people, they may be the only alternative that works. The Public Health and Health Planning council, convened by Zucker, will study the menthol question during the two-week review period that precedes the ban. "This is a situation in evolution," Cuomo told Lehrer, referring to the possibility of a total ban further down the line. "No credible health expert questions that this is a public health emergency."

With an eye toward scaling back the sizable number of minors who vape — roughly 37 percent on 12th graders, 32 percent of 10th graders, and 18 percent of eighth graders admitted to vaping in 2018 — Cuomo said that the state police will work "hand-in-glove" with the Health Department to "crack down" on stores that sell nicotine products to underage customers. Right now, that means under the age of 18, but starting November 13th, the legal age for tobacco and vape purchases will rise to 21. Cuomo also plans to propose legislation that would bar vape manufacturers and tobacco companies from advertising directly to young people.

"I don't think it's an outrageous parallel to say look at the work we're doing now with the opioid companies," Cuomo said Sunday. "They sold pain medication that they knew was highly addictive, that they circulated, they advertised, they distributed. It created hydrocodone, oxycontin, it created addictions in the users, which then provided their business relationship with more customers. Get the customer addicted and they will keep coming back. ...Tobacco, cigarettes and now these vaping e-cigarettes, it's still nicotine. And nicotine is what's addictive."