E-Cigarette Ban Is Bad Policy

November 22, 2019

by Rob Roper

So, some Vermont legislators and the governor are considering a ban on flavored e-cigarettes and menthol-flavored tobacco cigarettes when they return in January.

They are doing this despite the fact that the recent health issues associated with vaping have been linked to users vaping TCH (the active ingredient in marijuana). And, according to the American Association of Family Practitioners, an investigation into the problem in Illinois and Wisconsin, “… found that nearly all THC-containing products individuals reported using were packaged, prefilled cartridges primarily acquired from informal sources such as friends, family members or illicit dealers.” Not normal, commercial vaping products.

The CDC’s recommendations are that, “…people do not use THC-containing e-cigarette, or vaping, products. CDC also recommends that people should not: Buy any type of e-cigarette, or vaping, products, particularly those containing THC from informal sources like friends, or family, or in-person or online dealers. Modify or add any substances to e-cigarette, or vaping, products that are not intended by the manufacturer, including products purchased through retail establishments.” So, how does a ban like the one being discussed in Montpelier help and not hurt by simply creating the kind of black market opportunity for unsafe, non-TCH products like the one the CDC warns against?

The THC thing is ironic as the same legislature at the same time will be working to pass a law allowing for the creation of a legalized market structure for the sale and taxation of THC laden marijuana. Is this just an example of the Boomer generation legalizing their own vice while banning that of Millennials? I’m okay, you’re an idiot who needs to be saved from yourself.

But, argue the Nannies, yummy flavors attract kids? Reminder: last year you banned those under 21 from purchasing e-cigarettes at all, no matter what flavor they are. Are you admitting your stupid, nanny state laws are ineffective? Dare we say useless?  As for the flavors, kids do like chocolate, strawberries, and bubble gum. So do adults. That’s why, for example, the makers of Dove Bars don’t target adult women with flavorless ice cream bars.

If you’re worried about your health, don’t smoke and don’t vape. Sucking anything into your lungs is, safe to say, worse for your body than not doing it. That would be my advice to anyone who’s asking. But whether you do or not choose to smoke or vape is not my decision, nor is it the decision of 180 busybodies plus the governor in Montpelier. It’s yours — and, to steal a line from Ben Franklin – if you can keep it.

Rob Roper is president of the Ethan Allen Institute.

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The Ethan Allen Institute is Vermont’s free-market public policy research and education organization. Founded in 1993, we are one of fifty-plus similar but independent state-level, public policy organizations around the country which exchange ideas and information through the State Policy Network.
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