Nation’s First State-Wide Flavor Ban Gaining Momentum

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It was recently announced by officials that Hawaii might soon pass a total ban on most e-liquid flavors.

Things seem to be getting more hectic for the vaping industry before they get any easier. The FDA is currently in flux with Commissioner Scott Gottlieb set to leave his post in the coming weeks, right amid their push toward an e-liquid flavor ban. Meanwhile, local municipalities are tasked with deciding how to properly handle vaping, such as in San Francisco where the country’s toughest flavor ban was voted on and passed last year. Now it seems a state legislature is ready to test the waters of flavor bans, as Hawaiian officials recently announced their plan to pass a statewide ban on nearly all e-liquid flavors.

As you can imagine, the reports were met with a lot of different reactions. Some believe it’s the right move to protect children from the dangers of tobacco, seeing it as a gateway to full-blown smoking. Meanwhile, others see the extreme value in vaping, pointing to an ever-growing pile of independent and peer-reviewed research proving the harm reduction and smoking cessation value of e-cigarettes. The bottom line is vapers in Hawaii may very well soon be faced with a difficult situation, something experts say will push many back into a life of smoking.

Flavor Ban

This isn’t the first time Hawaii has shown they’re no friend of the vaping industry. In fact, they were already the first state to implement other strict vaping regulations. For instance, they were the first to raise the age of vaping and smoking to 21. Proposals seeking to increase the smoking age to 100 (effectively banning them) have even been discussed, but never made it past initial stages. This ban is not quite that extreme, however, and experts believe it won’t have much trouble becoming law. Making matters worse was the admission from legislators that they care more about money than a policy which actually improves health. According to reports, the original version of the flavor ban would have included menthol as well, but it was removed over fears of losing too much precious tax revenue.

Far too often this becomes the heart of the issue for legislators. Instead of doing their job and putting in the work to understand the differences between smoking and vaping, they instead want to simply apply smoking restrictions on an entirely different process. This type of cop-out is both unjustified and detrimental to public health, as it undermines something which could arguably be the most crucial harm reduction and smoking cessation tool ever created. Taking things a step further, research led by Yale Professor Dr. John Buckell took a deeper look at the effect of flavor bans on smoking rates and Big Tobacco sales. The team of researchers concluded that flavor bans, like the one proposed in Hawaii, would ultimately give a boost to Big Tobacco more than it would limit smokers.

Looking Deeper

It doesn’t take a lot of searching to find independent research which strongly supports the many benefits of vaping. We’ve known since 2015 that vaping is at least 95% safer than smoking thanks to research by Public Health England. This groundbreaking study made huge waves, but it’s become quite common to find figures like this. In fact, only a few months back we got a report which found cigarette smoke has 93% more toxicants than e-liquid vapor. But nothing proves just how much safer vaping is than smoking quite like the report from the Journal of Aerosol Sciences which concluded the excess lifetime cancer risk of a smoker is about 57,000 times higher than a demographically similar vaper.

We also have research which supports other benefits outside of general harm reduction. A study conducted by researchers at the University of Louisville tested all the most common smoking cessation methods and aids to determine which were the most likely to succeed. After collecting and analyzing all their data, the team concluded not only is vaping effective at helping people quit, but it’s actually the single most likely to succeed. Last but not least, we also have reason to believe the teenage vaping “epidemic” is being significantly overblown in the media. A report of over 60,000 students conducted by Action on Smoking and Health concluded that only between 0.1% and 0.5% of non-smoking teens are ever picking up a vape more than once or twice. Which means even fewer are ever ending up smokers because of e-cigarettes.

Implications

Unfortunately, things don’t seem to be settling down quite yet. While this could mean the first state-wide flavor ban, the FDA is actively working on a nation-wide version that would obviously have a much more significant impact on the industry. That’s why it’s so important we use the time we have to let our representatives know how much vaping means to us. Far too few people understand the many benefits of vaping, and what making a switch could mean. That’s the real issue. Until more people realize just how much is at stake, it will remain effortless for legislators to swoop in and drastically change vaping rights.

Do these latest changes worry you? What do you think would have the biggest positive impact on the perception of vaping? Should we worry about teaching non-smokers what vaping has to offer? 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.

Jimmy, lover, blogger, vaper and ex-smoker. I’ve been blogging about and supporting Vaping since 2009. They changed my life and I think history will show them as one of the most significant public health invention of the 21st century.

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