Michigan may have the most interesting vaping regulation fight in the country, and the battle is reaching a head.
Many people forget, but just about ten years ago, vaping was a barely known industry just starting to make a name around the country. These days it’s a multibillion-dollar industry which many see as a potential game-changer in the tobacco control fight thanks to a growing pile of evidence. Despite this, the majority of legislators have remained skeptical of their benefits and instead often choose to regulate them further. Things are even more complicated in Michigan, where legislators are in the middle of a prolonged battle to put any vaping laws on the books whatsoever. That said, it does seem the vaping community is about to get a much-needed victory, as a bill currently on the desk of Governor Gretchen Whitmer would ban vaping for anyone under 18, but not designate them as a tobacco product in the process.
This may not seem like a big deal, but if it occurs, they will become the first state to officially back the idea that vaping and smoking are different and ought to be treated as such. The much more common method is to just apply tobacco control laws to vaping, which doesn’t have any tobacco at all. The vaping community is very excited about this bill, but experts warn that it’s not a done deal. The governor is being told by major agencies like the American Cancer Society to veto the bill, which would allow teens 17 and younger to buy nicotine vaporizers.
The bill currently sitting on Governor Whitmer’s desk has been years in the making. If signed into law, it would ban the sale of any vaporizers to anyone under the age of 18 in stores across the state. However, things go back a few years to when Senator Rick Outman first tried to have this law passed. Almost the exact situation we find ourselves in today happened back in 2014 under former Governor Rick Snyder. He also faced pressure from the ACS and others to veto the bill, which he eventually did, allowing teenage vaping sales to continue. They felt the bill didn’t go far enough, and instead wanted it to also designate vaping as a tobacco product, subject to tobacco taxes. The allure of money was simply too much, and Gov. Snyder never got another chance to sign a vaping bill into law.
Current Governor Whitmer is now faced with the same issue. Should she pass up a chance to stop teens from accessing vaping products, even if it means she doesn’t get the much-desired tax revenue? For most people, it seems like an obvious answer, but apparently, it isn’t so clear cut. Most experts agree it’s most likely she signs the law, but the ACS has been vocal about wanting her to veto. Fortunately, Sen. Outman is once again trying to be the voice of reason, saying “why aren’t we taxing the patch as tobacco? It is the same substance. It is nicotine. It is a nicotine delivery system. Either you tax them all or you don’t tax them.”
Research On E-Cigarettes
We need more legislators who are willing to go against the pack and look into the research for themselves. If they did, these bills seeking to restrict vaping by the same laws as tobacco wouldn’t have nearly the support they do. Simply put, vaping and smoking are not the same. Research from Public Health England indicates vaping is at least 95% safer than continued smoking. That was first published back in 2015, but in the years since we’ve gotten a lot more research which supports these claims. A study out of Roswell Park Cancer Institute concluded the toxicants in vapor are about 93% lower than in tobacco smoke. But to really understand what’s at stake, consider the report from the Journal of Aerosol Sciences which concluded the excess lifetime cancer risk of a vaper is about 57,000 times lower than a demographically similar smoker.
That’s just the general harm reduction value. Looking into the smoking cessation value and you find much of the same. A report out of the University of Louisville tested all the most common smoking cessation tools and methods to determine the most likely to succeed. After collecting all their data, the team concluded that not only are e-cigarettes an effective quit aid, but they may be more likely to work than anything else. However, for many people it doesn’t matter how much value they provide if they’re putting teens at risk. Luckily we have reason to believe the teenage vaping “epidemic” is being overblown. A report over 60,000 students by Action on Smoking and Health concluded as few as 0.1% of non-smoking teens are ever picking up a vaporizer more than once or twice.
Regardless of what the American Cancer Society says, I think it’s a much more dangerous precedent for 15-year-olds in Michigan to have access to vaporizers than it is to consider vaping different than tobacco. No one is saying vaping is harmless, but it provides a legitimate option for smokers looking to end their lifelong dependence. This bill becoming law would be proof that we can live in a world where vaping and smoking are both regulated but held to different and appropriate standards. If we want to end the smoking epidemic once and for all, the best thing we can do is support our most valuable tools, which includes e-cigarettes.
What are your thoughts on the vaping regulation fight in Michigan? Why do you think vaping is so effective? How should we be teaching others about 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.