Hawaiian officials recently announced they could soon become the first state to ban e-liquid flavors outright.
2019 has already been quite the year for the vaping industry. Between the FDA ramping up their crusade against vaping to include a potential nationwide flavor ban, and the more recent development that current Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb would be stepping down sometime this month, things are very much in flux. At the same time, states and cities are working on fleshing out their own vaping regulations, such as San Francisco implementing the nations first outright vaping ban. However, we recently learned Hawaii is the first state to be seriously considering a statewide ban on all e-liquid flavors except menthol and tobacco.
The news was met with varied reactions depending on who you ask. Anti-vapers applaud the move as a necessary step toward protecting teens from the threat of vaping. At the same time, vaping supporters ask for the evidence proving e-cigarettes are making kids more likely to end up smokers while blasting the proposed flavor ban as ultimately working against its intended goals. Regardless, experts believe Hawaii will soon make this ban a reality, meaning many vapers across the aloha state may quickly find themselves back on cigarettes without their preferred vaping option available.
According to reports, state lawmakers in Hawaii are once again proving they’re a true testing ground for some of the most restrictive vaping regulations in the country. They became the first state to raise the age of vaping and smoking to 21, while also seeing progressive proposals, such as one meant to effective ban cigarettes by raising the age to purchase them to 100. While that proposal didn’t even make it to a floor vote, experts believe the proposed flavor ban is entirely possible, if not likely. Initially, the ban would have also prohibited menthol e-liquid from being sold, but legislators aired on the side of money over morals, explaining they couldn’t stand to lose the tax revenue.
This highlights one of the more significant problems with any legislators attempting to ban vaping using the same logic applied to restrict cigarettes. It’s not up for debate that vaping and smoking are entirely different processes, so why is that how most people think about vaping? The answer is legislators taking the easy way out and legitimizing the misleading belief that vaping and smoking are basically the same and therefore interchangeable. Not only that, but research from a Yale professor concluded flavor bans like the one proposed are ultimately improving the market for Big Tobacco much more than they’re preventing teens from picking up a cigarette.
What The Research Says
Hawaiian legislators either must not be looking very hard or not care very much, as there’s plenty of research proving the harm reduction and smoking cessation value of e-cigarettes. For starters, we’ve known about the massive level of harm reduction provided since at least 2015 thanks to Public Health England. Their report was a significant development at the time, but these days we hardly go a few months without another piece of evidence backing this level of harm reduction. In fact, a report published at the end of last year found cigarette smoke has 93% more toxicants than e-liquid vapor. If that didn’t make a strong enough case, we also have a report published in the Journal of Aerosol Sciences which found the excess lifetime cancer risk of a vaper is about 57,000 times lower than a demographically similar smoker.
But it’s not just harm reduction that vaping provides. We also have peer-reviewed research which concluded vaping is the single best smoking cessation tool we have at our disposal. One of the most common concerns surrounding vaping is the impact on teens, but a report of over 60,000 students by Action on Smoking and Health found only between 0.1% and 0.5% of non-smoking teens are ever using vapes on a regular basis. Which naturally means fewer must be ending up smokers because of vaping alone.
Things are likely to get a lot more hectic before they settle down. This may be the first state-wide flavor ban, but if the FDA has its way, the rest of us will be in the same boat soon enough. That’s why it’s so important we fight back now. We have to spread the positive information we have to all the smokers and non-smokers in our lives who have ever been affected by the dangers of cigarettes. Too many people don’t understand the difference, and that’s the real tragedy. If we want to protect our vaping rights, the best thing we can do is get more people on board with the massive harm reduction and smoking cessation benefits of vaping.
Are you surprised by these latest regulations? What’s the biggest problem you see with the vaping industry as it currently is? How can we most effectively teach those around us about the benefits of e-cigarettes? 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.