New York Passes Epi Auto-Injector Law for Ballparks, Big Venues

in Food Allergy, Food Allergy News
Published: June 3, 2024
Lawmaker Linda Rosenthal, flanked by advocates, speaks on epi law.
Lawmaker Linda Rosenthal, flanked by advocates, speaks on epinephrine law.

New York lawmakers have passed a bill requiring epinephrine auto-injectors in all large public venues in the state to better prepare them to treat allergic reactions. The legislation will make New York the first state to require places such as stadiums, ballparks and auditoriums and to stock the lifesaving auto-injectors.

“An allergic reaction can occur at anytime and anywhere, so we must ensure that epinephrine is as widely accessible as possible,” Assemblymember Linda Rosenthal tells Allergic Living. 

The bill requires venues with the capacity for at least 1,000 people to have epinephrine auto-injectors for public and private events. At least one person trained on the device must also be on-site.

Rosenthal sponsored the bill with New York State Senator Andrew Gounardes. The state Senate passed the legislation (S1078A) with a unanimous vote on May 29, 2024, after it passed in the state Assembly (A2885A) the week before. New York Governor Kathy Hochul is expected to sign the bill into law. It will take effect once she does.

“I am emotional and grateful to the legislature because this law will save lives,” Lucia Zaremba, 16, tells Allergic Living. “It’s an important step forward in increasing awareness and safety for those with allergies.”

The Brooklyn teen pitched the idea for the bill to Gounardes after seeing her brother John experience anaphylaxis. Their mom administered an epinephrine auto-injector that stopped his reaction. But Lucia wondered what would happen if he or other New Yorkers didn’t have access to an auto-injector during a reaction.

“Anaphylaxis can be terrifying and deadly,” Gounardes said in a statement. “Requiring epinephrine devices to be easily accessible … ensures families don’t have to live in fear every single time they go out to dinner, a concert or a ballgame.”

Brother’s Reaction Leads to Epi Law

The legislation to make New Yorkers at events safer during an allergic reaction began with a big sister who was worried for her brother. Lucia’s brother John, now 13, is allergic to nuts, peanuts, sesame and legumes. 

The Zaremba family has been navigating food allergies since John was a 3-year-old. He first reacted severely and needed hospital treatment after eating Easter candy that contained nuts.

Another alarming incident occurred in July 2018. John got a tick bite and developed Alpha-gal syndrome. But when John suffered a severe allergic reaction at home after eating red meat, the Zaremba family was not yet aware this new allergy had developed.

Sen. Andrew Gounardes with Zaremba teens John and Lucia and their parents.
Sen. Andrew Gounardes with Zaremba teens John and Lucia and their parents.

Thankfully, mom Nancy Zaremba recognized the symptoms of anaphylaxis, and injected John with his epinephrine injector. “I remember being so grateful we had an EpiPen to save him,” Lucia tells Allergic Living. But also “being terrified about what would have happened if we didn’t.”

Nancy Zaremba says her son was fortunate to outgrow the alpha-gal allergy after three months of strict red meat avoidance. But the expert who saw him cautions another bite from a Lone Star tick could bring the allergy back. Plus, since John has multiple food allergies, and the risk of having another anaphylactic reaction remains.

“That fear has never left me. It’s my hope that this law will help take that fear away from others who will know that auto-injectors will be available at large venues,” Lucia says.

The teen and her family joined Rosenthal and Gounardes in Albany in May, for a rally in support of the legislation. 

“Thanks to her bravery and determination, we’ve passed a bill that can help millions of Americans live their lives more safely and securely,” Gounardes says.

Venue Law a ‘Model for Other States’

The legislation will make large venues safer for an estimated two million New Yorkers who have food allergies, according to FARE (Food Allergy Research and Education). Stock epinephrine auto-injectors will be accessible to provide lifesaving care at ballparks, theaters and other events. The nonprofit compares this to access to automated external defibrillators (AEDs) and Narcan for overdoses. 

FARE CEO Dr. Sung Poblete thanked Gounardes, Rosenthal, Lucia and “hundreds of advocates who supported this legislation.” In a statement, she stressed the added safety for New Yorkers with allergies, “whether it is visiting Yankee Stadium in the Bronx or the JMA Dome in Syracuse.” 

The organization worked to lobby lawmakers in Albany and to garner support for the legislation. Poblete added that “FARE … looks forward to working in other states to pass it.” 

Jason Linde, FARE’s senior vice president of advocacy applauds Lucia Zaremba’s “determination to make life better and safer” for food-allergic New Yorkers. She “inspires us and reminds us all that no matter your age, if you are committed and determined to work hard, you can create lasting change.” 

Rosenthal has advocated for laws to protect residents with food allergies for several years, such as epinephrine accessibility. “This bill brings us one step closer to that goal,” she notes.

New York lawmakers’ move to pass the bill sets a precedent. Other states have laws in place that “allow” large public venues from theme parks to ballparks to have epinephrine auto-injectors. But none have made it a requirement. 

“This bill is a model that other states can follow to keep their food allergy families safe,” Linde says.

Related Reading: 
All About Epinephrine: Allergic Living’s Guide to a Lifesaving Drug
Anaphylaxis and Lack of Epinephrine Use in Young Ki