US To Raise Minimum Age Of Vaping And Smoking To 21
New Law Aims To Prevent Teenage Nicotine Product Usage
Anti-vaping activists have long purported the myth of a so-called teenage vaping epidemic. While cries of an epidemic are dramatically overblown, there has been an uptick in some riskier teenagers experimenting with vaping in recent years.
In response to both this and an outbreak of illnesses initially attributed to vaping but later found to be caused by black-market marijuana, lawmakers throughout the United States have implemented or proposed legislation restricting or outright prohibiting the sale of vapor products. These regulations range from flavor bans, such as the ones implemented in Michigan and New York, to total prohibition, such as the recently lifted temporary ban on all vapor products in Massachusetts.
These reactionary forms of regulation tend to end up hurting current and former adult smokers more than protecting teens, as proponents of these laws claim they do. Public health experts and officials throughout the United States have cautioned against restricting nicotine-addicted smokers’ access to a proven and effective smoking cessation device since these bans were initially proposed.
Following the advice of public health officials and tobacco control experts, President Trump signed a new common-sense law raising the minimum age to purchase any nicotine-containing product from 18 up to 21. This new regulation should restrict teen access to nicotine-containing products more effectively than any form of prohibitionist policy enacted to date.
Preventing Youth Vaping
As a part of the upcoming 2020 spending bill, President Trump signed several major health provisions into law, including raising the minimum age to purchase any nicotine-containing product up from 18 to 21. While 19 states, the District of Columbia, and municipalities throughout the country have raised the minimum age of purchase on their own, this new law raises the minimum age nationwide.
The bill has had near-unanimous bipartisan support, quickly advancing through the House of Representatives to the Senate, where it passed with a 297-120 margin. The bill then proceeded to the desk of the President, who promptly signed it into law.
The new regulation is set to take effect at some point in late 2020, about nine months after the President signed the bill into law. While some members of the vaping industry believe this new regulation may help overturn more restrictive rules in individual states, some anti-vaping activists claim that teenage vaping will continue unless all vaping products are banned entirely.
Public health experts have repeatedly warned against blanket prohibitionist policy that restricts current, and former adult smokers access to perhaps the most effective smoking cessation aid. They caution that the overall negative public health ramifications from regulations such as flavor bans far outweigh the potential benefit of preventing a few teens from experimenting with vaping.
Smoking currently impacts over a billion people throughout the world, yet does not face the same level of regulatory or public scrutiny that vaping currently faces. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates there are currently 38 million smokers in the United States alone, 16 million of which live with some form of smoking-related illness or disease.
Vaping may be the single greatest tool in helping to quarantine the smoking epidemic. Research out of the University of Louisville found vaping to be the most effective smoking cessation device available, beating out quitting cold-turkey and other methods of cessation.
Not only is vaping the most effective form of smoking cessation we have, but research shows vaping is significantly less harmful than smoking. According to landmark research conducted by Public Health England, vaping is 95% safer than smoking, a figure the country’s public health agency routinely stands behind.
In addition, it appears there is little to no risk of harm to long-term users of vapor products. A report published by 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 its prolonged usage.
The national increase of the minimum age to purchase nicotine-containing products has been unanimously supported across the spectrum of the vaping debate. Anti-vaping activists, as well as vaping advocates, agree that raising the minimum age of purchase from 18 to 21 is a common-sense solution to help deter teenage vaping.
Prohibitionist policy targeting vaping only serves to harm adult smokers rather than protect teens. The vaping industry and community have been diligent in their attempts to speak out against these reactionary regulations and the broader impact they may have on public health.
Despite various bans being in effect throughout the country, anti-vaping activists have routinely failed to demonstrate their efficacy in actually preventing teens from vaping. Common sense compromises such as federally increasing the minimum age to purchase vapor products are a far more effective solution than prohibition has ever demonstrated.
How do you feel about the US raising the age to buy vapor products from 18 to 21? Do you believe this will help prevent teenage vaping? What are your thoughts on regulations, such as flavor bans? 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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