Smoke and vapor still hang in New York despite increasing restrictions

People vape during the International third Edition of Vape Trade Show 'Vapevent' in Brooklyn, New York, USA, 28 March 2019. Vapevent is a two-day exhibition that displays the latest in vaping trends. EPA-EFE/ALBA VIGARAY

NEW YORK.- The burgeoning electronic cigarette sector is showing its drive, new designs and trends this Thursday and Friday at a fair in Brooklyn’s New York neighborhood, while criticism and restrictive laws against this business are on the increase.

In the midst of a thick cloud of vapor and industry professionals hovering between stalls, testing and scrutinizing the various items on offer, Nick, who works in a store in New Paltz, said that among the new products «this year, the CBD (cannabidiol) is a hit.»

This component of marijuana, which in order to be commercialized in the US cannot contain more than 0.3 percent of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the main psychoactive component of cannabis, is offered almost like a miracle product, with analgesic and relaxing effects.

As flavored oil for electronic cigarettes, but also in eyedrops for its ingestion, in sweets or creams, the CBD is one of the three protagonists of the fair.

Pierre Oudot, one of the organizers, confirms to Efe that although this product already made an appearance at the 2018 fair, this year it has become a major new trend.

Phil Maio, an employee of the New Jersey distributor of Ultimate Product Distributors, says that sales of this product have tripled in the last six months alone.

According to Maio, this is due to the new promises of the governors of his state and of New York, to legalize the consumption of marijuana for recreational purposes, which removed the stigma on cannabis products and people have started to try it out.

Another trending product this year is the so-called «nicotine salt», which is more effective and can reach your brain faster, according to Oudot.

Along with these brand new items, electronic cigarettes continue to be the true protagonists with their inexhaustible designs, colors, sounds and functions. They come in all sizes, from those as bulky as a flask to those that do not exceed the size of a USB memory stick.

Tyler Eastman, of the company Smokin’ Vapor, proudly sells one of the most in demand products, «Mi Pod», a matchbox-sized vapor, sold in different colors and it comes with a chain to wear around the neck.

For Eastman, consumers have become more demanding over the years and they are no longer so concerned about the size of the device or the amount of smoke it produces, but demand something light, modest and with a design.

But, while enthusiastically celebrating the continued growth of this market, many do not take their eyes off the calls to impose more restrictive measures on the use and sale of these products.

Last January, the US Food and Drug Administration warned about the increasing use of electronic cigarettes among young people.

According to the FDA, the availability and popularity of electronic cigarettes led to an increase of 78 percent among high school students and 48 percent among middle school students between 2017 and 2018.

That is, the number of smokers in that age group went from 1.5 million to 3.6 million, making vaporization an «epidemic,» according to the US administration.

To try to curb its further expansion, states like New York want to raise their taxes, have increased the legal age for buying tobacco products and electronic cigarettes from 18 to 21, have vetoed its sale in pharmacies and study banning flavors to add to vaporizers.

The Executive Director of the New York State Vapor Association, Cheryl Richter, criticized these measures, rejecting the ban on flavors claiming they are the most important element to prevent (tobacco) smokers from getting hooked on cigarettes again.

When this fair, reserved only for professionals, started in 2017, there were about 700 workers from the sector who came to see the products. Two years later, the visitors have doubled and the organizers hope that their number will continue to grow.

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