The Biden administration and state and local governments should consider rolling back regulations that limit options for adult smokers looking to quit the habit. This comes as controversy over vaping products and falsehoods regarding tobacco-harm reduction tools continues to spread like wildfires.
Despite fearmongering from the federal government, e-cigarettes and vaping products are much safer than traditional cigarettes. Vaping is also a key component to tobacco harm reduction. Advocates for tobacco harm reduction completely disagree with flavor bans. What’s more, the facts disagree, too.
Fortunately, the Connecticut Legislature recently killed a bill that would have banned flavored e-cigarettes in the state. “The Connecticut Legislature is making it quite clear that it will sell out Connecticut’s kids to do the bidding of Juul and Altria instead,” Matthew Myers, president of the Washington, DC-based Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, said in a written statement.
The narrative of helping kids is difficult to argue against, except when the reality is flavor bans don’t actually reduce youth vaping. Yet, for years, the misguided Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and state governments have used fearmongering as a tactic to institute draconian regulations on e-cigarettes.
According to a recent Heartland Institute study, only 15.6% of high school students cited using e-cigarettes because of flavors. Evidence also suggests that flavor bans have not reduced youth vaping use. On the other hand, adults trying to quit smoking traditional cigarettes do rely on flavored e-cigarettes to kick the habit. Of course, these bans are detrimental to their progress toward quitting.
A 2018 survey of 70,000 American adult vapers found that flavors play a vital role in the use of e-cigarettes and vaping devices. Adults rely on flavors in tobacco harm reduction products. For instance, 83.2% and 72.3% of survey respondents reported vaping fruit and dessert flavors some of the time. Unfortunately, the FDA already implemented a national ban on vaping flavors. Even worse, the FDA is considering adding menthol to the list of banned products.
According to the Vapor Technology Association, in 2018, the industry created 87,581 direct-vaping related jobs, including manufacturing, retail, and wholesale jobs, which generated more than $3.2 billion in wages.
Flavor bans cause devastating economic outcomes to the tens of thousands of Americans who make an honest living working in the industry. The reality is that the vaping industry is a $24 billion business, and the government has done enough over the past year to destroy businesses across the country. Since the pandemic began, nine million small business owners don’t think they will survive the year because of the lockdowns instituted by government. COVID-19 has caused millions of business closures across the country, and the vaping industry is constantly under attack from excise taxes and flavor bans.
Similarly, a non-partisan budget analysis found that Connecticut could lose nearly $200 million in tax revenue over the next two years from a ban on menthol cigarettes.
Yet, just because a state limits access to these products does not mean people won’t purchase them across state lines, which is typically what happens. The loss in revenue isn’t worth it, nor is it contributing to the public health debate.
When government intervenes in the tobacco harm reduction marketplace, everyone loses. The result is fewer jobs and more adult smokers unable to purchase tobacco harm reduction products. These decisions should be made at a local level, but government is going against science in their claims that banning more e-cigarettes will somehow “save lives.”
If the goal of the Biden administration is to “curb death,” someone should explain that banning tobacco-harm reduction tools isn’t the route to go. Unfortunately, Washington DC is full of unelected bureaucrats who have little commonsense and even less trust in we the people to make our own decisions regarding so many things nowadays.
[Originally posted on NewsExpress]