State Implements Prohibition Amid Hysteria
A mysterious health scare repeatedly misattributed to vapor products, yet continuously proven to be caused by illicit THC oil cartridges, has led to a wave of bans in what some in the vaping community are referring to as the “vapocalypse”. As the Trump Administration’s Federal ban on flavored vapor products looms, several states have hastily taken to enacting various bans of their own.
Shortly after Michigan became the first state in the US to enact a flavor ban in early September, a wave of other states quickly followed suit. Massachusetts has now gone farther than any other state in the nation by implementing a complete-but-temporary ban on the sale of all vapor products.
Governor Charlie Baker defended the ban, declaring vaping a public health emergency citing the unsubstantiated hysteria currently surrounding the general concept of vaping. Members of the vaping community have criticized the move as one that may destroy the local retail vaping industry, forcing small mom-and-pop shops to lay off their employees and shutter their doors.
Lawmakers enacting these bans based on repeatedly debunked misinformation are at best displaying flagrant ignorance, and at worst possibly acting maliciously on behalf of the interests of big-tobacco campaign donors. Thankfully, members of the vaping industry are not taking this lying down, and have hit back against these bans by issuing lawsuits against the administration’s ban.
Prohibition Doesn’t Work
Last Tuesday Massachusetts announced temporary prohibition on the sale of all vapor products in the state. In a press conference, Gov. Charlie Baker declared vaping a public health emergency, ordering a four-month ban amid growing reports of illnesses largely attributed to vaping black-market THC oil, and not the regulated traditional nicotine vapor products that are largely targeted by the ban.
The Governor stated the ban would indeed cover all vapor products, whether flavored or unflavored, containing THC or nicotine, or purchased online or at a vape shop. The Baker Administration did not announce specifics on how the ban would affect the trafficking of illicit THC cartridges, again responsible for a majority of the illnesses he has cited as justification for the ban.
Members of the local retail vaping industry in the state have noted that this ban effectively forces them to close their shops as their entire inventory is now illegal. Some of these shops have hit back against the Baker Administration, issuing lawsuits challenging the constitutionality of the ban and noting that the irreparable harm it will cause to their businesses.
Not only are there major negative economic ramifications involving a $6 billion-a-year industry should the ban remain in effect, but there are major negative public health implications as well. There is a growing body of research noting the negative impact vapor bans have on public health in general.
Truth About Vaping
Studies have shown that vaping bans are detrimental to public health at large, and specifically to former smokers. Research from Yale University found that by leaving them with no viable reduced-harm alternatives to tobacco, former smokers may unfortunately take smoking up again.
Aside from misinformation somehow connecting vaping THC to vapor products, lawmakers also often cite the myth of a teenage vaping “epidemic” as justification for hastily enacting these bans. Despite these oft-repeated claims, researchers at Public Health England found that as little as 0.1% to 0.5% of teens who try vaping actually take it up habitually, far from any remote calculation of an “epidemic.”
Traditional nicotine vaping can play an essential role in the fight against the very real global smoking epidemic, as vapor products have been proven to be a smoking cessation aid and reduced-harm alternative to tobacco. Independent and unrelated studies from Public Health England and the Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center each found vaping to be 95% and 93% safer than smoking, respectively.
In addition to this, a study published in the Journal of Aerosol Sciences found that vapers have a 57,000 times lower risk of developing cancer compared to smokers. The study noted that particulate matter in vapor was also far less harmful than the particulate matter in smoke.
The prohibition of vaping not only has major potential economic ramifications but serious public health implications that we may not have a full understanding of for many years down the line. While it’s easy to understand the direct and dramatic negative impact this ban will have on the domestic retail vaping industry, we can’t fully comprehend the full scope of impact removing such a beneficial smoking cessation aid from the market at a time where there are currently 1 billion smokers suffering in the global smoking epidemic.
As this latest ban in Massachusetts has proven, legislators will continue to encroach on your basic rights after an initial precedent has been established. Left unchallenged, other states will quickly follow Massachusetts lead with their own various forms of prohibition.
The vaping community must remain vigilant in being civically engaged, both online and off, to help shift the current hostile discourse surrounding vaping. By sharing stories online and in-person about how vaping has positively impacted your life and health, you can help highlight the benefits of vaping to lawmakers and the misinformed public at large.
How has vaping impacted your life? How do you feel about Massachusetts’ total prohibition on vaping? We’d love to hear from you down in the comments below. Be sure to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter to receive all the latest vaping news!
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