The full scope of economic ramifications yet to be understood.
As a federal ban on the sale of all flavored vapor products looms in the United States, several states have taken to enacting bans of their own in lieu of waiting on the federal government. New York, Michigan, and Massachusetts have all enacted flavor bans ranging from complete prohibition to select exclusions for mint and menthol offerings.
In Massachusetts, the Baker administration projects that its 90-day ban on retail sales of nicotine and cannabis vaping products may lose retailers over $8 million in sales. The projection was included in the paperwork needed to implement an emergency order in compliance with a Superior Court judge’s order.
Public health officials have stated the ban would only cost the state roughly $35,000 to implement, and that the out-of-pocket cost for compliance to businesses would be “minimal,” but also that the ban itself could cost retailers over $8 million in lost sales. The American Vaping Association has released figures showing over 2,500 people are employed in the $331 million Massachusetts vaping industry.
The Vapor Technology Association, as well as several vape shops, have sued the Baker administration, seeking to halt the ban and ultimately have it overturned. Unfortunately, the ban remains in effect as of the time of publishing.
Negative Economic Ramifications
The Baker Administration has projected the three-month ban on the retail sale of vapor products in Massachusetts may cost small businesses anywhere from $7 million to $8 million in lost sales. The estimate was included in a filing by the Department of Health to the Secretary of State, needed to comply with a Superior Court Judge’s ruling that questioned the implementation of the ban.
In its projections, the administration did not distinguish between lost revenue from nicotine vapor product sales over cannabis vapor product sales, leading to confusion by some. However, analysts estimate that $8 million would represent about 2.4% of total nicotine vapor product sales.
Retailers and industry trade organizations have responded with litigation looking to overturn the ban, noting the detrimental impact and irreparable harm these bans pose to their businesses. In a ruling on the industry’s request for the ban to be halted immediately, Judge Douglas Wilkins noted that vape shop owners “have certainly suffered, and will suffer, very great and irreparable financial impact” because of the ban, but also stated that the “balance of harm” leans in the state’s favor because of a potential public health concern.
While the full economic impacts of flavor bans such as the one in Massachusetts have yet to be understood, we are already seeing dozens of small mom-and-pop vape shops closing their doors as a result. Legal precedents, such as the one set by Judge Wilkins’ ruling, are not only concerning for the future of the vapor industry in Massachusetts but the rest of the country as well.
Despite the sustained war against vaping, a proven smoking cessation device, and reduced-harm alternative to tobacco, we are still in the midst of a fight against smoking, responsible for killing millions a year and affecting over a billion people globally. Figures from the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control estimates there are approximately 38 million smokers in the United States alone, 16 million of whom are currently affected by some kind of smoking-related condition.
There is an expansive collection of peer-reviewed evidence noting the efficacy of using vaping as a smoking cessation aid. A study by University College London found that vaping helped over 50,000 Britons quit smoking in 2017 alone.
In addition, there is also a wealth of data noting the reduced harm vaping poses compared to smoking. Research published in the Journal of Aerosol Sciences found that vapers face an incredible 57,000 times lower risk of developing cancer compared to smokers.
Furthermore, current data shows that flavor bans may actually yield more risk than benefit. Research from Yale University finds that these bans serve a major public health risk by restricting smokers’ access to a proven smoking cessation aid, which may cause nicotine-dependent vapers to take up smoking again.
The domestic retail vaping industry is currently in the midst of crisis, as a federal flavor ban looms, and states enact a multitude of bans of their own, small independent business owners are being forced out of business. Dozens of small mom-and-pop vape shops throughout the United States have already shuttered in response.
Left unchallenged, these burdensome regulations will only force more outlets to close as small business owners scramble to navigate this new hostile regulatory landscape. Even flavor bans, and not complete prohibition like Massachusetts, have been shown to have a major economic impact as flavored vapor products often account for +90% of sales.
The vaping industry must stand firm in the current war against vaping, not only continuing to push back against these bans but helping to inform the public at large about the potential public health benefits vaping can offer. In addition, members of the vaping community must stand with the vaping industry to help protect the tool that had successfully allowed them to quit smoking.
Have you used vaping to quit smoking? Do you live somewhere currently affected or about to be affected by a flavor ban? We would love to hear from you in the comments below, also be sure to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter to receive all the latest vaping news!
(Image Credit – Pixabay – https://pixabay.com/images/id-305932/)