Governor Hickenlooper recently called on the state’s health agencies to do more to regulate vaping, including considering a ban
The FDA has let it be known that they do not support vaping. Commissioner Scott Gottlieb has openly discussed that he feels an “epidemic” of teen vape usage is happening all around the country, and stopping those teens is of a higher priority than supporting a healthier option for the 37.8 million adults who smoke in the United States. Despite all the scientific evidence proving e-cigarettes extreme value in smoking cessation and harm reduction, the FDA has begun using “blitz” tactics against vaporizer manufacturers, distributors, as well as brick and mortar shops.
These actions are leading to an even worse public perception of vaping, causing many people to fear the coming “epidemic” that is ultimately unfounded. In some places, they are making significant decisions based on that fear. One such place is Colorado, where Governor John Hickenlooper recently announced an executive order which detailed the steps the state will be taking against vaping.
Like Commissioner Gottlieb, Gov. Hickenlooper claims that many of the precautions he will be implementing are designed to prevent a youth vaping epidemic. Hickenlooper is under the misguided opinion that use of vaporizers will lead individuals to use combustible cigarettes. He even stated as much in his press conference, “With teenagers, this is (a) seed that is getting planted and has the potential to lead to lifelong addictions to not just vaping, but to cigarettes.”
Many of the changes he announced are relatively common, like raising the purchase age from 18 to 21 and requesting an extension to state taxes on tobacco products. Some vaping manufacturers, like Juul Labs, have already voluntarily raised the age limits on their products, and many states have implemented harsh taxes on vaping products. So these precautions, while not ideal for vapers, are becoming typical. Hickenlooper then took the opportunity to make suggestions to the state legislatures, the most heavy-handed of which is a request to ban flavored tobacco products, which would include e-cigarette flavors.
The idea of flavor bans have been brought up a lot in recent months, it is one of the actions Scott Gottlieb has threatened the FDA may take. But to this point, most of the projections and research that has been done into such a ban’s effect show that it would have a negative impact. For instance, a study published in the National Bureau of Economy lead by John Buckell found that flavor bans would ultimately have a negative impact, causing many vapers to return to smoking. According to surveys of over 60,000 students aged 11-16, only between 0.1 and 0.5% of non-smoking teens ever take up vaping. This means that the majority of youth vapers are former smokers, and the same goes for adults.
According to Buckell and his team, if a flavor ban were enacted which included e-liquids, then there would be a steep uptick in vapers returning to smoking. Some experts liken removing flavors, other than tobacco, from vaping would be akin to making an alcoholic go into a bar every time they drink a glass of water. It would be untenable for you to expect them to stay sober under these circumstances.
These actions by Governor Hickenlooper bode poorly for the U.S.’s relationship with vaping. The fearmongering and scare tactics the FDA has been using are clearly working if states are individually enacting restrictions that the federal government has not. It is imperative, now more than ever, to let your representatives know how you feel. Share the research with them that has proven vaping is 95% safer than smoking, or that it is the most effective smoking cessation tool on the market.
If the truth about vaping can be spread, and the general populous understands how much of a benefit vaporizers are for public health, then we can prevent bans like this from happening everywhere. When people and the governing bodies understand vaping’s value, then vaping will be able to reach its full potential in the war on tobacco.
Do you think that there is anything to be worried about for the vapers of Colorado? How should we regulate vaping separately from smoking? What do you think is the best way to improve the public perception of vaping? Let us know what you think in the comments, and don’t forget to check back here or join our Facebook and Twitter communities for more news and articles.
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