A proposed flavor ban and tax increase threaten the future of vape shops and the health of vapers in California.
The chaos created in the wake of the coronavirus crisis is looking like a devastating deathblow to an already injured industry. While most regulators and public health officials scramble to contain the contagion, others are choosing to focus their efforts elsewhere.
A proposed complete ban on all flavored nicotine products recently advanced out of the Senate Health Committee in California. In addition, a new tax on nicotine has been included as a part of the Governor’s upcoming budget proposal.
Vape shops throughout the state are in fear for the future of their businesses and the industry as a whole as both proposals gain momentum. The industry has struggled to adapt to a rapidly-changing and increasingly-hostile regulatory environment and has been absolutely devastated in the wake of the coronavirus crisis and associated lockdowns that have forced closures throughout California.
Vapers in the state are concerned for their own health and futures as well. Many are worried that a lack of access may force those addicted to nicotine to take up smoking again, and the strict scope of the ban would lead to an increase in risky black-market alternatives.
War Against Vaping
In California, SB 793 passed out of the Senate Health Committee at a vote of 8-1 and is now set to advance to the Senate Appropriations Committee for additional review. The proposed bill would ban retail sales of all flavored vapor and tobacco products within the state.
Additionally, Governor Gavin Newsom has included a tax on nicotine as a part of his budget proposal for the fiscal year ahead. The proposal would create an additional tax on nicotine products at a rate of $2 per 40mg, alongside the state’s staggering 60% wholesale tax on vapor products.
Vape shops throughout the state are concerned over closures caused by the coronavirus and are now forced to worry about additional regulatory hurdles during these trying times. Additionally, vapers in the state are concerned for their health as lawmakers work to restrict access to what has been an effective form of smoking cessation for them.
In addition to the core economic and public health ramifications that may potentially be caused by the proposed prohibitive policy, there are concerns over the establishment of a black market for vapor products. As safe access decreases yet demand increases, those struggling with nicotine addiction and smoking cessation may be forced to find black-market alternatives rather than choosing to take up smoking again.
Truth About Vaping
The worldwide smoking epidemic is responsible for killing and sickening millions each and every year. According to data from the Centers for Disease Control, there are an estimated 38 million smokers in the United States alone, 16 million of whom currently face some form of smoking-related illness.
Vaping has repeatedly proven itself as one of the greatest tools at our disposal in the war against the ongoing smoking epidemic. A study by the University of Louisville concluded vaping is the single most effective smoking cessation option, even more than prescription alternatives such as Chantix.
Current research indicates that vaping is already responsible for helping thousands of adult smokers successfully quit each year. Research from University College London found that vaping helped up to 70,000 British smokers quit in just one year alone.
Alongside being one of the most effective smoking cessation aids available, research has shown vaping to be a reduced harm alternative to smoking as well. Studies from Public Health England and the Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center found that vaping is 95% and 93% safer than smoking, respectively.
Not only has vaping been repeatedly demonstrated as an effective smoking cessation aid and reduced harm alternative to smoking, but current evidence indicates no risk of harm from long-term usage as well. A study published by the National Academy of Sciences found that vaping is not only significantly less harmful than smoking, but there are currently no known long-term health effects associated with prolonged use.
Vapers and vape shops are in fear for their future as lawmakers prioritize prohibition over the pressing public health matters at hand. Rather than focus on assisting these economically-distressed groups during these trying times, lawmakers would rather advance legislation that will lead to the demise of an entire industry and tax base within the state.
It is important, now more than ever, for members of the vaping industry and community to stand together against these ridiculous regulations. A sustained campaign of civic engagement and industry lobbying may be the best way to convey what is at stake should these proposals pass.
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