A bill in California would ban the sale of flavored e-cigarettes across the state, leaving online sales as the only option for vapers, as well as closing countless shops
Concerns over the impact of vaping are nothing new. It seems like every week we’re dealing with questions regarding the long-term risk of vaping or the dangers of extremely rare battery explosions. However, probably the most common concern over vaping is the message it sends to children when we support vaping for its harm reduction and smoking cessation benefits. Vaping supporters say e-cigarettes aren’t 100% harmless but they do offer a much safer alternative to combustible cigarettes. Anti-vapers are convinced that legitimizing vaping will only telegraph to kids that it’s perfectly safe and should be picked up for fun.
This battle has raged for several years now, with different legislators choosing different methods to handle the potential problem. While it’s imperative for us to protect children from decisions they don’t understand, many people debate at what point are we doing more harm than good if vaping is an effective tool against smoking. It seems that a group of lawmakers in California has decided to side with anti-vapers, as they recently introduced a bill that would ban the sale of all flavored e-cigarettes across the massive state.
The group of state-level senators and assembly-members led by Sen. Jerry Hill (D) announced last week that their proposal would place an outright ban on brick and mortar store sales of flavored vapes. Their goal is to halt the rise in nicotine use by teens according to the co-authors, all Democrats from different parts of the state. According to Sen. Hill, the bill will be formally introduced to the state Legislature at some point this week when they start their new session. “Enticed by fruit, candy, and other appealing flavors, high school and middle school students throughout the U.S. are vaping in record numbers,” according to Sen. Hill.
If the proposal passes, it will ban the sale of vaporizers and accessories in retail stores and vending machines across the state. The ban would also include flavored tobacco products, such as cigarillos and chewing tobacco. Failing to follow the law could result in as much as $6,000 in fines paid to the state. Online and mail sales will still be legal but will require a photo ID when purchasing, as well as someone 21 or older to sign for the package when it arrives. This robust proposal could have massive implications for the vaping industry, not only in California but across the country.
This concern over the impact of vaping on the youth is understandable from an outsiders perspective. After all, vaping and smoking do appear quite similar, especially if you’re not familiar with the distinct differences. Since many e-liquids contain nicotine, it’s even that much harder for some to understand how they’re so much different. However, we have plenty of evidence from reputable sources that concludes vaping is at least 95% safer than smoking. In fact, research published last fall found that the excess lifetime cancer risk of a smoker is around 57,000 times higher than a demographically similar vaper. We even have research which suggests vaping is the best smoking cessation tool we have, even beating out prescription drugs.
But in spite of the evidence for the harm reduction and smoking cessation value of vaping, many are still worried acceptance of vaping will eventually lead many teens into a life of smoking. This is the heart of the argument being made by the California legislators. The only issue in their logic is that we have large-scale evidence which proves this concern is overblown. A survey conducted of over 60,000 students found that only between 0.1% and 0.5% of non-smoking teens were ever picking up vapes, let alone ending up on cigarettes.
Ultimately the biggest problem with the proposal is that it would create an environment in which those who have successfully switched from smoking to vaping will be at a much higher chance of relapse without access to their preferred products. Not only that, but it will also destroy countless small vaping businesses in California who have built themselves up from nothing. In one fell swoop, this law could effectively close shop for vape stores across the state. This would be a massive mistake and likely only lead to an increase in smokers switching back. While it may seem like a good idea on the surface, taking any time to delve deeper reveals the truth. If we ever want to end the smoking epidemic once and for all, we must be supporting vaping for all its benefits, not equating it with tobacco.
Do you think California will pass this new ban? Do you think this would set the wrong precedent for other places? What’s the best way to spread the word about the harm reduction and smoking cessation benefits 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.