The latest session of the US Congress just recently got underway, but it already has the vaping community feeling anxious
It seems like the more questions we ask and answer about vaping, the more complicated the topic becomes. As a very new technology, it’s not entirely crazy that so many different plans would be established to properly regulate the harm reduction tools. What’s causing big problems, however, is the general lack of understanding among the general public in many countries. So while some nations are moving closer to a future that takes full advantage of vaporizers, the US seems to be moving back into archaic bans with a new proposal that could significantly alter the state of vaping in America.
This isn’t the first time representative Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) submitted a law change that would significantly change the industry. In 2015 she introduced a very similar piece of legislation that was soundly shot down in the then GOP-controlled House. If passed, her law would have made it much harder for teens to get vaping products online, but now she’s going after more than just online sales. In fact, now that Dems control the House, and the GOP is much more willing to limit vaping rights, vapers are concerned her updated proposal will have no trouble passing.
The new bill called the “Youth Vaping Prevention Act”, is said to reign in the unfettered growth of the vaping industry. Likely the most controversial topic in the bill is how it would change the price and availability of vaping products around the country. This would include adding vapes under the jurisdiction of the IRS code for tobacco products. If passed, this would result in another tax on your vaping products. Meaning that in addition to your local taxes, any vaping device would also have the same flat tax as a pack of cigarettes. As part of her pitch, Rep. DeLauro and her office have released data which suggests closing these “tax loopholes” will ultimately reduce the cost of vaping for most people. But experts have been quick to dispute that claim, saying the average person would end up spending more on vaping if such a bill is passed.
The second significant portion of Rep. DeLauro’s proposal is once again related to online vaping sales. She’s primarily concerned with making all retailers, online and in-store, required to take ID before selling any products. For online stores, this would require utilizing approved databases to verify customer age. Taking things a step further, she would also require these retailers to develop a system for ensuring only legal adults sign for the package. So while many of these concerns are fair given their impact on teens, most in the vaping community feel it would be more successful if they had sought out their input first.
The Impact Of Flavor Bans
Ultimately though, everything previously proposed by Rep. DeLauro pales in comparison to the most significant issue facing this bill, the proposed power to ban any e-liquid flavors. If passed, the law would give the FDA the power to ban any e-liquid flavors with very little oversight. As long as they feel the flavor is causing more harm than good, the bill would give the FDA the right to swoop in and make selling it illegal. Critics are worried that when passed, the FDA will use this new power to ban all e-liquid flavors except tobacco, and possibly menthol. Many adult smokers say that fruit or dessert flavored e-liquids were an important key to them being able to successfully quit smoking once and for all, so banning them may have unintended consequences.
These concerns are backed up by a study conducted by Dr John Buckell of Yale University. His study took an in-depth look at how flavor bans of different types would affect society. After gathering and interviewing over 2,000 adult vapers about their personal relationship with vaping, the team started to notice some interesting patterns. It was clear that an e-liquid flavor ban would do more harm than good, as they concluded a prohibition of all flavors except menthol and tobacco would likely result in over 10% of vapers reverting back into smoking. Making the impact more clear, if only menthol cigarettes were banned, while e-liquid flavors were kept intact, Big Tobacco sales in the US would decrease nearly 5% in only a year.
2019 is shaping up to be an incredibly significant year for the vaping industry. With legislators in flux and support for vaping regulation growing, vapes are getting harder to defend. But the root of this problem is not with a lack of evidence. We’ve known since 2015 that vaping is at least 95% safer than smoking, while at the same time being one of the best smoking cessation tools we have to offer. If we let politicians take away our vaping rights just on a hunch, we may lose a lot more than just our freedom. We must ensure that we always work to teach those around us about the value of vaping. If we want to protect the vaping industry we’ve come to know and love, we simply must fight misguided proposals like these.
Does this proposal worry you as a vaper? What do you think is the most essential part of adequately regulating vaping? How should we work to spread positive information about 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.