Common Sense Regulation Aims To Prevent Youth Access To Nicotine Products
While claims purporting a teenage vaping “epidemic” tend to be overblown, there has been a rise of experimentation with vaping among some riskier teens. In response to this, and following outbreaks of injuries initially attributed to e-cigarettes, but later found to be caused by vaping illicitly-produced spiked cannabis oils, lawmakers throughout the United States have enacted reactionary forms of regulation prohibiting vapor products.
While prohibitionist policies would, in theory, prevent teens from vaping by restricting sales, these various bans only end up harming adult smokers looking to quit by blocking access to a proven and effective smoking cessation device as opposed to actually protecting minors. Public health experts have begun speaking out publicly against these policies, noting the potential negative ramifications they pose to public health at large.
As a part of a larger spending bill, Congress has passed a new law that will raise the federal minimum age to purchase any nicotine-related products from 18 to 21. President Trump is expected to sign the bill, as he expressed support for such a move back in November.
Members of the vaping industry and community, public health experts and officials, and even anti-vaping activists have all expressed support for the move. This includes the increasingly rare bipartisan support among lawmakers. This simple and common-sense regulation most effectively prevents teenage access to nicotine-related products, without restricting adult access to vapor products to help aid in smoking cessation.
Common Sense Regulation
A new law passed by Congress as a part of the 2020 spending bill will raise the minimum age of sale of nicotine products from 18 to 21 in the upcoming year. The bill will now advance to the President, who had previously supported doing so after backing away from a proposal to implement a federal ban on flavored vapor products.
The spending bill had passed both the House of Representatives and Congress with little pushback, ultimately passing with a 297-120 margin. The new law is set to go into effect roughly nine months after the President signs off on it.
So far, 16 states, as well as the District of Columbia, have raised the minimum age for purchase to 21 under their own volition. In addition, various municipalities and localities scattered throughout the country have enacted regulations increasing the age anywhere from 19 to 21.
Federally increasing the age of purchase for nicotine products may help in overturning prohibitionist policies such as flavor bans that have been enacted on the state and local level. Current research shows that not associating nicotine with tobacco is a significant driving force in helping former smokers continue to abstain.
While lawmakers throughout the country are engaged in a war on vaping, the worldwide smoking epidemic currently impacts over 1 billion people globally and is not facing similar levels of scrutiny. In the United States alone, the Centers for Disease Control estimates that there are currently 38 million smokers, of which 16 million live with some form of smoking-related illness or disease.
Vaping may be the greatest asset we have in the war against the smoking epidemic. In fact, research from the University of Louisville found vaping to be the single most effective smoking cessation device available, even more than nicotine-replacement therapies.
Vaping is not only the most effective smoking cessation device we currently have, but research shows vaping poses significantly less risk to users than smoking. According to Public Health England, officials concluded that vaping is 95% safer than smoking, a figure the country’s public health agency routinely defends.
Furthermore, it appears there is little to no long-term risk to users of vapor products. In fact, a report from the National Academy of Sciences concluded that not only is vaping less harmful than smoking, but there are no long-term health effects associated with prolonged usage.
Federally increasing the minimum age to purchase nicotine-related products from 18 to 21 may help to overturn and deter prohibitionist policies restricting adult smokers’ access to vapor products. By effectively restricting teen access, bans on vapor products would be even more excessive and unnecessary than they currently are.
This common-sense regulation, with unanimous support across the spectrum of the vaping debate, will more effectively lower teenage vaping rates than any various ban has to date. This may signal to lawmakers that prohibitionist policies restricting adult smokers’ access to effective smoking cessation devices has many more drawbacks than benefits.
While a step in the right direction for the industry, it is important for the community not to become complacent with progress. Vapers must continue to speak out in defense of the tool that managed to free them from the binds of smoking.
How do you feel about Congress raising the federal age to buy vapor products from 18 to 21? Do you believe this will help prevent teens from vaping? We’d love to hear from you 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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