Rhode Island Flavor Ban Becomes Codified In Law
Executive Order Now Solidified In Regulation
The world is in near-freefall following the outbreak of an unfolding global pandemic. Despite the imminent danger this poses to not only the economy but public health as a whole, regulators continue to carry onward with their crusade against vaping.
In September of last year, the Governor of Rhode Island signed an emergency order prohibiting the sale of flavored vapor products for 120 days beginning the succeeding month. As the order rapidly approached expiration, the state Department of Health submitted final regulations to help the temporary order become permanent law.
The state vaping industry and community are in uproar, over both concerns of access to vapor products in the age of lockdowns and social distancing, as well as the severe economic impact this is going to have on an already struggling industry in even more dire times. The state Department of Health has stated that the regulations are meant to protect teenagers, who they claim use flavored vapor products.
In September 2019, Governor Gina Raimondo of Rhode Island signed an emergency order directing the state Department of Health to implement regulations that would temporarily ban the sale of flavored vapor products. Those regulations went into effect the following month and were meant to be in place for 120 days, with an optional 60-day extension, as the Department of Health worked out more permanent regulations.
As the bans April 1st deadline rapidly approached, regulators at the state Department of Health scrambled to submit those final regulations to the secretary of state to become law. These permanent, non-emergency regulations have no time limit and prohibit the sale of flavored vapor products within the state for good.
Vape shop owners have expressed great concerns over the impact that these measures would have on their small businesses, which seem even more pressing now, given our collective evolving situation. “Sales are down close to 80 percent and we’ve had to lay off 80 percent of our workforce,” said Joe Dionne, owner of Rhode Island e-Cig and Vapes.
Supporters of the move note these regulations were already being worked on prior to the outbreak, and that this ban prevents youth access to vapor products. “This policy isn’t focused on making current vapers quit. It’s about trying to prevent this epidemic of youth initiation with e-cigarettes,” said Kevin O’Flaherty, spokesperson for the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.
While anti-vaping activists and lazy lawmakers like to parrot unfounded claims of a teenage vaping epidemic, research led by researchers at NYU School of Global Public Health, found that most teens don’t actually vape. The study, published in the journal Nicotine & Tobacco Research, discovered that over 85% of teens do not vape at all and that the few that do are not regular users.
Harm reduction experts and public health scholars alike continued to caution against the risks and ramifications associated with flavor bans. In an article published in the journal Science, a group of these respected experts came together to speak out against prohibitive policies targeting vaping. They not only note a lack of evidence vaping is harmful, but that such measures risk forcing people toward tobacco or even black market alternatives.
Despite the propaganda parroted by anti-vaping activists, the scientific consensus remains thoroughly in favor of vaping and the benefits it may provide. As an example, research published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that vaping was more effective than traditional nicotine-replacement therapies in helping adults quit and remain off of tobacco.
Vaping has not only been repeatedly demonstrated as perhaps the most effective smoking cessation device, but several studies have shown the reduced harm vaping poses compared to smoking as well. Groundbreaking research from both Public Health England and the Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center each found that vaping is 95% and 93% safer than smoking, respectively.
During a time of near-global collapse, lawmakers, particularly public health officials, must prioritize their focus on the imminent danger the unfolding crisis poses to us all. A time of crisis is not a time for political posturing.
Members of the vaping industry and community must ban together to lobby to get these regulations overturned. This act of political theatre only exacerbates the economic and public health risks posed to an already struggling nation during these trying times.
Those struggling with nicotine addiction should be given every resource and opportunity to help manage their health as this crisis unfolds. Prohibition will only lead to users traveling across state lines and taking advantage of black market alternatives, only increasing the risk of further spreading the outbreak.
Additional restrictions placed on an industry forced to shutter following a statewide shutdown of non-essential businesses are a direct death sentence for these small businesses. This not only places more people out of work during the largest unemployment crisis in history but removes these businesses from the rapidly dwindling tax pool as well.
What are your thoughts regarding Rhode Island’s vape ban becoming permanent? Do you feel the priority of public health officials is misplaced during this unfolding public health crisis? We would 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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