Hawaii had recently announced plans to restrict all vaping flavors except menthol and tobacco, but the proposal was withdrawn earlier this week.
The regulations surrounding vaping always seem to be changing. Between ongoing debate and new peer-reviewed research, our understanding of their risk and value is continually shifting. Those against vaping argue acceptance will inevitably lead to teens picking up the habit, which then will turn them into full-blown smokers. Vaping supporters, on the other hand, point to a growing pile of peer-reviewed evidence which indicate vaping is an effective smoking cessation and harm reduction tool. Despite the increasing reports, there is no real end in sight for the battle over vaping. However, we did get some good news earlier this week when Hawaii announced they’d reconsidered their plan to implement a state-wide e-liquid flavor ban.
As you can imagine, this news was met with extremely varied reactions depending on who you ask. Vaping advocates have applauded the move for its common sense, while critics continue to argue no harm reduction value provided to adults is worth, what they see as, a dangerous precedent for teens. While the lawmakers decided to shelve the flavor ban, the vaping industry wasn’t completely spared, as they pushed forward with another controversial regulation. Regardless, the latest information on the Hawaiian flavor ban is excellent news for the industry as a whole, especially for the thousands of vapers in the Aloha State.
Change Of Heart
It was late last month when state legislators introduced a bill to the house that would have banned all e-liquid flavors except menthol and tobacco. At the time they claimed any restrictions were necessary to help control youth vaping and ultimately smoking, despite a lack of any reputable evidence connecting the two. When it was announced, many experts believed it was only a matter of time before it was passed into law there. After all, Hawaii was already the first state to raise the minimum age to smoke from 18 to 21. They’ve shown several times they’re willing to be a pioneer when it comes to restricting one of the best harm reduction and smoking cessation tools at our disposal.
Despite shelving their flavor ban, Hawaiian officials did move forward with other vaping regulations. The most significant being a rise in the vaping tax, as well as a larger fine for underage possession of an e-cigarette. This is because officials still see vaping as a severe problem in need of solving. According to Rep. Scot Matayoshi, “I don’t feel like that the rights of adults to smoke flavored e-cig liquid outweighs our obligation to protect kids from getting addicted to a substance that’s made to be addicting.” Regardless, this latest development was celebrated around the vaping world, especially in the face of the FDA’s own looming flavor ban.
What The Data Says
While the legislators didn’t go into what changed their minds, there is plenty of peer-reviewed evidence which could have done the trick. Back in 2015, Public Health England published a large scale report which concluded vaping is at least 95% safer than smoking. This was the first substantial evidence we had for the harm reduction value, but it certainly wasn’t the last. In fact, we often get similar results these days. For example, a report published just a couple months back concluded toxicants in cigarette smoke are about 93% higher than in e-liquid vapor. But if that didn’t prove it to you, consider the 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.
Taking a look past the general harm reduction value and you still see plenty of reason to support vaporizers. Take for example the so-called teenage vaping “epidemic.” The media would have you believe vaping is leading teens to a lifetime of smoking, but a report of over 60,000 students found only between 0.1% and 0.5% of non-smoking teens are ever picking up vaping on a regular basis, let alone switch to smoking. Last but not least, we believe vaping is an extremely useful smoking cessation tool. A report conducted by researchers at the University of Louisville concluded not only is vaping effective at helping people quit smoking, but it’s actually more likely to succeed than anything else.
This is a definite win for the vaping industry. It may not be a long-lived victory though, given how hard the FDA is pushing toward a nation-wide flavor ban. Regardless, this is proof even in notoriously anti-vaping places, the right research can improve the outlook. That’s why it’s so crucial for us to take the time to tell our representatives exactly how much vaping means for you and your health. If we don’t, there’s no telling where we could find ourselves in a few years from now.
Are you excited Hawaii changed their mind? Or do you think it’s all for naught since the FDA is planning a nation-wide version? What’s the best way to support vaping to those around us? 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.