Utah Passes Amended Vape Ban
Industry Influence Reduces Restrictions
The world is full of uncertainty and doubt during an unfolding global pandemic expanding to the far reaches of the earth. Despite the obvious priority this public health crisis should take, lawmakers continue to target vaping during these trying times.
Utah legislators passed an amended version of a proposed ban on flavored vapor products. The bill was passed following concessions made to industry organizations that ease a number of initially proposed policies targeting vaping.
Members of the vaping industry note that concessions made were more to stem the detrimental impact of the bill, rather than benefit the industry. The compromises made would allow some continued access to vapor products, enabling outlets in the state to continue operating.
Sponsors and supporters of the bill are frustrated with the concessions made, stating that they neuter what they feel is a good public health policy and that the current bill doesn’t go far enough. Although disappointed, these lawmakers do ultimately think that the law was a step in the right direction and that the bill lays the groundwork for additional regulations in the future.
Utah recently passed a ban on the sale of select flavored vapor products in most retailers. The ban does allow exemptions for mint and menthol and applies to non-specialty retailers, meaning you will still be able to purchase flavored vapor products in tobacco and vape shops.
The bill also levy’s a new 56% wholesale tax on vapor products at the manufacturer’s level. This is far from the 86% initially proposed by the bill’s sponsor, but is expected to significantly impact the industry as well as generate an estimated $24 million in revenue.
Representative Jennifer Dailey-Provost was disappointed by the concessions made to the bill, in her opinion, feeling that lawmakers wasted a golden opportunity to protect public health. “In the last year, it appeared to me that finally our state and our Legislature had collected the political will to make meaningful change in this space,” she said. “But now, it appears that the levers being pulled by Big Tobacco, nefarious store owners … and dishonest lobbyists will muddy the waters. And our Legislature will yet again ignore the opportunity to make meaningful change that will finally stem the tide of youth addiction.”
Casey Hill, a representative of the Utah Vapor Business Association and Utah Medical Association, notes that passage of the bill was a setback for the industry and shows the lack of influence the industry ultimately holds over lawmakers. “The Legislature ultimately passed a significant tax, and that tax will go toward heightened restrictions and regulations and go toward sting operations,” he stated. “I wouldn’t characterize what happened for the vape industry in any way as a win.”
Harm reduction experts and public health scholars have repeatedly warned against the risks and ramifications of flavor bans. In an article published in the journal Science, a group of respected public health experts came together to speak out against prohibitive policies targeting vaping. They noted a lack of evidence vaping is harmful and that such measures risk forcing people toward tobacco or even the black market.
Despite the often-repeated claims of a teenage vaping epidemic by lawmakers and anti-vaping activists, a study led by researchers at NYU School of Global Public Health discovered most teens don’t actually vape. The study, published in the journal Nicotine & Tobacco Research, found that over 85% of teens do not vape at all and that even the few that do are not habitual users.
Regardless of the fear-mongering misinformation parroted by anti-vaping activists, the scientific consensus remains thoroughly in favor of vaping and the benefits it may provide. For example, a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that vaping was more effective than traditional nicotine-replacement therapies in not only helping adults quit smoking, but remain tobacco-free as well.
Vaping has not only been repeatedly demonstrated as an effective smoking cessation device, but a number of studies have shown vaping is significantly less harmful than smoking as well. Landmark 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.
We are living in an evolving world during uncertain times, with many Americans gravely concerned not only about their own futures but the future as a whole. Despite the apparent public health and legislative priority this pandemic poses, legislators continue to target vaping as though that’s what’s important right now.
The public as a whole, not just vapers and the industry, should be outraged and publicly shame these lawmakers for prioritizing reactionary legislation over taking meaningful action to help secure the lives and futures of its citizens. Now is the time for swift and hard action for the betterment of public good as a whole, not for political grandstanding.
What are your thoughts regarding Utah’s partial ban on flavored vapor products, as well as their wholesale tax on all vapor products? How do you feel this impacts vapers and the industry as a whole in the state moving forward? 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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