The proposal would ban menthol cigarettes along with all e-liquid flavors except tobacco.
Vaping regulations are one of the most important, but often overlooked portions of the industry. While much of the vaping community is content with life as it is, legislators around the world are questioning how much vaping should be allowed, if at all. Making matters worse, these laws are always subject to change, given their relative newness and the already rampant, but undeserved, mistrust of the vaping industry. The result is a situation where, instead of doing the leg work to determine the critical differences, many states choose to equate vaping and smoking and call it a day. Massachusetts could soon become the latest state to ban e-liquid flavors across the state in a misguided bid to lower harm. However, some experts say these laws are having the opposite of the intended effect.
Both sides of the vaping debate had strong reactions to the news. With anti-vapers applauding the move for taking the necessary steps forward, while vapers point to the peer-reviewed evidence supporting the harm reduction and smoking cessation value of vaping. Only time will tell what actually happens in the Bay State, but many in the vaping community are getting increasingly anxious about the growing threat of encroaching vaping regulations.
Potential Policy Shift
Massachusetts House Bill S.1279 was sponsored by Sen. John Keenan (Quincy) and looks to, among other things, ban the sale of flavored e-liquids across the state. Interestingly, the move would also see menthol cigarettes prohibited, which is more than can be said for similar laws elsewhere. However, the vaping community remains quite distressed over the news, as things have already been getting much harder for vapers in the state over the last several years. For starters, most convenience stores have removed fruit or dessert flavored e-liquids from their shelves, already leaving vape shops as the only place to get more exotic flavors. But if the bill passes, this will no longer be the case, as only tobacco flavored e-liquids will be permitted for purchase for sale in the state.
Keenan has made it clear he plans on fighting this battle until they have an amendment or law in place which restricts e-liquid access. He says this must be done to protect the youth from starting down a path of nicotine addiction and eventual smoking, but others are more skeptical of this connection. In fact, research out of Yale University indicates flavor bans, like those proposed in Mass, are more likely to increase the number of smokers than decrease them. This is because, without access to preferred products, many vapers end up reverting back to a life of smoking.
The Case For Vaping
The case for vaping is obvious once you take a look at the peer-reviewed evidence we have. For starters, we’ve known since at least 2015 that vaping is at least 95% safer than continued smoking thanks to a large scale report by Public Health England. Over the last several years we’ve gotten a lot more reports which find similar results, including a study from Roswell Park Institute which concluded the toxicants in vapor are 93% lower than in cigarette smoke. But the most impressive piece of evidence we have for the harm reduction value of vaping is the report from 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.
If you look past the overall harm reduction value of vaping, you still find a ton to support about e-cigarettes. For instance, a report from the University of Louisville tested all the most common smoking cessation tools to determine the most likely to be successful, and they found vaping to outperform everything else, including prescription drugs. But perhaps the most important evidence of all in support of vaping is the data which suggests the so-called teenage vaping “epidemic” is being overblown by the media. 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 picking up a vaporizer more than a couple times.
If our legislators just took a little more time to look at the peer-reviewed evidence, the path forward should be clear. While not harmless, vaping has been shown to be dramatically safer than continued smoking. So why then do so many legislators, including in Massachusetts, want to equate vaping and smoking. The fewer people who understand what e-cigarettes have to offer, the fewer smokers who will ever attempt to make the switch. If we really want to protect our vaping rights moving forward, we must teach those around us about the value of vaping.
Do you think this e-liquid flavor ban will become a reality? What’s the importance of vaping flavors to you? How should we teach others about the value of 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.