The city of Baltimore voted to restrict vaping flavors, as many worry about the real world impact
We’ve come a long way in the fight against tobacco, but even today cigarettes are the leading cause of preventable death and disease around the world. That’s why it’s so important we have plenty of practical tools to keep fighting tobacco dependence. Vaping has grown into a device that many swear by for its smoking cessation value. This value is even being backed up by a growing pile of evidence, but that doesn’t mean everyone has gotten on board. In fact, Baltimore just recently passed three bills which primarily ban e-liquid flavors sold in the city, even as many claim such a move would ultimately make things worse.
With more legislators working to devise the perfect way to handle vaping, this particular solution has become very common. Especially in the face of the so-called teenage vaping “epidemic,” lawmakers are hoping flavor bans will make them less attractive. However, the research we have seems to indicate these restrictions are mainly hurting adult vapers, not teens. So as Baltimore gets ready for a brave new vaping world, the rest of the country waits to see how things pan out.
In early January the Baltimore City Council voted on, and passed, three law changes which would impact the vaping industry. The smaller of the bills included changes to the official definition of e-cigarettes, as well as making it a requirement for any shops selling vapes to display relevant and valid information on the relative risks of vaping to their customers. It was Councilman Leon Pinkett III who took the lead on the largest of these changes though. He personally backed the need for a ban on all e-liquid flavors except traditional tobacco. He made it clear they believe flavors serve no purpose other than to attract teens into a life of nicotine addiction, brushing off the idea flavors increase effectiveness in adults as a smoking cessation tool.
That would mean they believe that basically, the only reason anyone would start vaping is for the wide range of flavors. That would make it clear why a flavor ban was so high on their list of things to pass. Unfortunately, when flavor bans happen in real life, the result isn’t people stop vaping, in most cases, they just revert into a life of smoking. This relationship has been shown in research several times, including a report by Dr. John Buckell of Yale University. His report used statistical models to determine the impact of different flavor bans and found an e-liquid flavor ban would likely lead to about 10% of vapers reverting to smoking. Alternatively, Dr. Buckell and his team found that if menthol cigarettes were instead banned and e-liquid flavors were left alone, it would decrease Big Tobacco sales in the US by 5%.
What’s The Point
If you asked the Baltimore City Council why they voted to pass these bills, they would likely say something to the effect of “acceptance of vaping will lead more non-smoking teens to think it’s harmless.” Indeed, this sort of logic has been found time and time again, but did you know research indicates this story is way off base? A report of over 60,000 teens conducted by Action on Smoking and Health concluded that only between 0.1% and 0.5% of non-smoking teens are ever picking up a vaporizer regularly, let alone switching to full-blown smoking. With the smoking cessation value of vaping being what it is, it should come as no wonder why. A report conducted by researchers at the University of Louisville tested the success rate of all the most common smoking cessation methods and concluded that not only is vaping useful, but it’s likely the most powerful smoking cessation tool we have at our disposal.
Vaping also offers a ton of harm reduction value to those who make the switch from combustible cigarettes. A report first published in 2015 by Public Health England found that vaping is at least 95% safer than smoking, but this has been shown again many times. For example, a report published recently concluded e-liquid vapor contains around 93% fewer toxicants than cigarette smoke. But to truly understand how much vaping has to offer, consider a report which found the excess lifetime cancer risk of a smoker is about 57,000 times higher than a similar vaper.
It took some very misguided logic for Baltimore to think this latest ban was a good idea. In fact, it’s so bad that they’ll almost certainly be making matters worse for them over the next couple of years. The less viable you make vaping in a given place, the more significant an advantage you’re handing Big Tobacco. If more people did their research, it would be much easier to protect our vaping rights. Once you take some time to look at the evidence, things become rather clear. If we want to end the smoking epidemic once and for all, we must be supporting vaping, not undermining it.
What makes flavor bans such an attractive regulation? What’s the most crucial part of vaping to you? Are flavor bans like this changing how you vape? 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.