The bipartisan proposal would raise the minimum age to purchase vaping or tobacco products from 18 to 21.
There has been a lot of discussion over vaping these last several years. It seems like ever since they first hit the market over ten years ago, people have been skeptical about the long-term effects as well as the impact their acceptance has on teens. Depending on where you look, you’re likely to find completely different methods for handling their growth. Places like the UK have accepted and utilized them to the point of reaching all-time low smoking rates. Meanwhile, places such as Australia have strict laws in place forbidding vaping unless you jump through several costly and convoluted hoops. Somewhere between these extreme reactions is how the US has been handling vaporizers. However, a new bi-partisan bill could once again move vaping rights in the wrong direction here.
The proposal would raise the national age for buying vaping and tobacco products from 18 to 21, the most significant nationwide change of this sort since 1984 when the minimum age to purchase alcohol was raised to 21. Both sides of the vaping debate have been very vocal about the news. While anti-vapers have applauded the announcement, advocates worry these changes will ultimately reinforce the false idea vaping and smoking are basically the same. Only time will tell what really comes of this new proposal, but if it’s passed into law, it will once again prove how misunderstood e-cigarettes genuinely are.
This bipartisan proposal dubbed the Stopping Consumption of Tobacco by Teens (SCOTT) Act was introduced by Representatives Robert Aderholt (R-Ala) and Juan Vargas (D-Ca) via an uncommon press release. They mainly want to raise the minimum age to buy vaping products to 21, but several other stipulations are also included. The fact this proposal is bipartisan makes many in the vaping community worried it wouldn’t have a hard time passing through the lawmaking process. The other central part of their plan is the so-called establishment of a regulatory framework which gives the FDA more power over age enforcement. Some worry these different parts of the bill will ultimately be the most impactful, as they provide the FDA and other federal health agencies the power to come in and make sweeping changes with little oversight.
For instance, the proposal would require much stricter standards are met for age verification, giving the FDA the power to simply change the standards as they please. Another thing making this entire situation more complicated is the impending resignation of FDA Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb. He recently decided to step away from the spotlight to spend more time with his family, but the move has many worried about what comes next. While Dr. Gottlieb was never a massive supporter of vaping, he did delay the deeming rules until 2022, a move many in the community believe was an enormous victory.
Just taking a quick look at the independent research, we have on vaping, and their value is clear. Back in 2015, we got our first large scale report which concluded vaping is at least 95% safer than smoking. That study by Public Health England was big news at the time, but these days it’s much more common. In fact, just a few months back we got a study which concluded cigarette smoke has 93% more toxicants than vaping. However, the level of harm reduction provided is evident when you look at the report in the Journal of Aerosol Sciences which concluded the excess lifetime cancer risk of a vaper is around 57,000 times lower than a demographically similar smoker.
It’s not just harm reduction value provided either. In fact, some believe the most crucial thing vaping can do is help countless smokers end their dependence once and for all. A report by the University of Louisville tested all the most common smoking cessation tools and methods to determine the most likely to be successful. After collecting all their data, the team resoundingly concluded vaping is not only effective but the single most effective quit aid available. Lastly, a common reason given to restrict vaping is the impact they have on teens. Luckily the evidence we have paints a better picture. A report of over 60,000 teens by Action on Smoking and Health found that only between 0.1% and 0.5% of non-smoking teens are ever picking up a vaporizer more than once or twice.
Protecting our teenagers from decisions they don’t fully understand is as important as ever. That said, there are much better ways to reach our goals than attempting to fix a complicated problem with a simple solution. Not to mention the fact it’s completely unfair to tell a person they’re old enough to go to war and die for their country, but they can’t even use a proven harm reduction and smoking cessation tool. The only way for us to improve the situation is to keep the fight going. We must show to our legislators that vaping is an incredibly valuable tool for any smoker who is looking to end their dependence on tobacco once and for all.
Are you worried about the vaping age being raised to 21, do you think it will work? What’s the most essential part about vaping for you? Do you think this bipartisan bill will become law? 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.