Some state legislators are trying again to cripple the vaping market. They’ve revived last year’s proposal to restrict the nicotine-bearing vapor produced by electronic “cigarettes” to just three flavors — tobacco, menthol or clove. In short, they want to ensure that vaping, the more healthful alternative to smoking tobacco, tastes like the cancer-causing habit it helps people overcome.
The legislators, led by state Sen. Joseph Vitale, D-Middlesex, claim that any other of the hundreds of vaping flavors already in the market could be appealing to children — even though the sale of vaping supplies is already prohibited to anyone under age 19.
Previous campaigns against imaginary vaping harms included proposals to redefine vaping as smoking, even though it involves no burning of tobacco, and to ban vaping in automobiles if children are present.
These poorly grounded attacks suggest these legislators want to demonize vaping but can’t find a plausible rationale for doing so. Perhaps their unspeakable motivation is the potential loss of much of the $921 million annual state revenue from tobacco taxes and lawsuit settlements.
Evidence keeps mounting that vaping is the most effective method for smokers to quit.
Last year, Britain’s Royal College of Physicians issued a report strongly promoting e-cigarettes as a substitute for smoking. “E-cigarettes are likely to be beneficial to UK public health. Smokers can therefore be reassured and encouraged to use them, and the public can be reassured that e-cigarettes are much safer than smoking.”
The RCP report stated that vaping is not a gateway to smoking, does not result in normalization of smoking and is likely to lead to quitting attempts that would not otherwise happen. “Long-term health risks associated with e-cigarettes … are unlikely to exceed 5 percent of those associated with smoking tobacco products,” it said.
In February, a Cancer Research UK-funded study found that those who switched to vaping from cigarettes for at least six months had “much lower levels of toxic and cancer causing substances in their bodies.”
Cancer Research UK informs the public that e-cigarettes contain addictive nicotine but not cancer-causing tobacco, that nicotine itself does not cause cancer and that “there is no evidence that e-cigarettes harm bystanders.”
Britain’s sensible embrace of vaping as a replacement for smoking is paying off. In May, figures compiled by Action on Smoking and Health found more than half the people using e-cigarettes had given up smoking cigarettes entirely.
Vaping seems to be helping even the children the legislators are using to try to justify their restrictions.
During the rise of vaping from 2011 to 2016, the percentage of U.S. high school students smoking cigarettes was cut in half. And last month the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that the number of vaping students is starting to fall too — from 3 million in 2015 to 2.2 million last year.
Britain is making dramatic reductions in future sickness and mortality by using vaping to reduce smoking. That should be the goal of N.J. officials, too.
We agree with the Royal College of Physicians, that regulations should encourage smokers to switch to e-cigarettes, and not try to inhibit their development and use.