Crazy New Proposed Prohibition Prompts Public Health Debate
“Calls for a possible ban in Maine lead to a heated discussion surrounding the potential benefits and concerns regarding vaping”
A wave of prohibitionist policies has absolutely rocked the American vaping industry over the past year. These bans have ranged from bans on vaping in public spaces, to outright prohibition of vapor products.
A recent prohibitive proposal in Maine has spurred a debate on the potential benefits and concerns over vaping. The proposal would prohibit the sale of vaporizers and vapor products not formally approved by the FDA. However, the bill would make an exemption for devices and products sold at medical marijuana dispensaries.
Harm reduction activists caution that such a measure would only benefit big tobacco by forcing users back to cigarettes, establish a risky, unregulated black market for those who continue to vape, and causing irreparable damage to the state vaping industry, costing the state thousands of jobs and millions in tax revenue. Anti-vaping activists claim that such measures are one of the only effective ways to prevent teen access to vapor products.
Maine’s proposed prohibitionist policy is set to be one of the most restrictive in America to date. The FDA’s deadline for vaporizer manufacturers to register their products as smoking cessation devices isn’t until May, and applications may take well over a year to process.
Legislators in Maine are considering a bill that would bar the sale of all vapor devices and products not approved by the Food and Drug Administration as a smoking cessation device. The state has already banned internet sales of nicotine products, as well as raising the minimum age to purchase nicotine products from 18 to 21.
Senator Rebecca Millett, a sponsor of the bill, stated it would be an effective measure to reduce teen vaping by preventing access to vapor products. “I would say our efforts to keep them out of the hands of youth are anemic at best,’ she said. “They’re getting a hold of them, and they are engaging in using the devices, and it’s scary, and they are scared by it. They are surprised by how quickly they become addicted, how quickly it impacts their health.”
Opponents of the bill echo warnings from harm reduction experts about the potential public health ramifications of implementing such restrictive regulations. “I know so many Maine people who have been addicted to cigarettes and tobacco products who used vaping products to break the grip of that addiction,” said former state Senator Eric Brakey. “It’s an effective harm-reduction tool for so many people. It would be a tragic mistake to ban that and take it away.”
The bill faces revisions in the Health and Human Services Committee before coming to the Senate floor for a vote. To date, no vapor devices or products have been approved by the FDA as smoking cessation devices.
There is an expansive collection of research noting both the efficacy of vaping as a form of smoking cessation and the reduced risk of harm compared to tobacco use. Public health scholars and harm reduction experts routinely note that the public health benefits of vaping vastly outweigh any hypothetical drawbacks.
In an article published in the journal Science, a group of renowned public health experts came together to speak out against blanket bans on vaping. This group of acclaimed scholars notes there is currently no evidence that vaping is harmful, and that blanket bans may force users back toward tobacco or even the black market.
A series of studies have emerged that highlight the efficacy of vaping as a form of smoking cessation. One such study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, found that vaping is more effective than conventional nicotine-replacement therapies (NRT) in helping people quit smoking and remain tobacco-free. An additional study from the University of Louisville found that vaping was the most effective form of smoking cessation, more than any FDA-approved or traditional NRTs.
Vaping is not only one of the most effective forms of smoking cessation, but there is extensive evidence that vaping poses significantly less risk to users than smoking. In fact, research from both Public Health England and the Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center found that vaping is 95% and 93% safer than smoking, respectively.
Both harm reduction experts and members of the vaping industry are unified that restrictive policies simply do not work, and that the public health benefits of vaping vastly outweigh any potential concerns surrounding it.
Maine’s ban is set to be one of the most restrictive in the nation, which may shutter the state’s vaping industry and risk the health of thousands of vapers. As there are no FDA approved vapor products or devices, the ban would effectively prohibit the sale of all vapor products within its borders.
Vapers across the state must band together to speak out and stand united against this ban. Stopping this measure in the planning phase may be their best hope of preventing prohibition and securing the future of vaping.
What are your thoughts regarding Maine’s proposed ban on vaping products and devices? How do you think this will impact vapers in the state moving forward? 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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