Yet Another State Set To Equate Vaping With Smoking
Oklahoma Set to Raise the Legal Age of Vaping Products to 21 if Governor Signs Bill into Law
On Tuesday, the Oklahoma House of Representatives, in a 79-20 vote, passed a landmark bill that will increase the legal age for possession of all tobacco and vaping products to 21. Once the Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt signs the bill, the legislation will become law and essentially equate vaping and tobacco in law.
Passage of the bill wasn’t without opposition as some lawmakers were suspicious of the motive behind the Senate Bill 1423. Though some were skeptical about his motives, Rep. Kevin Wallace, who sponsored SB1423 on the floor of the House, said that his reasons were altruistic, and intended to mirror federal law. According to him, once the governor accents to the bill, Oklahoma will remain eligible to receive $6.4 million in federal matching funds. In addition to this, the State will also qualify for a federal grant program that will see Oklahoma receiving more funds via the Alcoholic Beverage Laws Enforcement Commission (ABLE).
Latest Misguided Change
When questioned by the Press, Rep. Wallace, and Rep. Wellston, who seconded the bill, revealed that representatives of Juul – the largest producer of vapor products in the United States – were the ones that provided the information that led to the bill. Juul, apart from being a major producer of vapor products, is also a strong advocate for state regulation of vaping, particularly among teens below the age of 21. As a large corporation, many major tobacco companies like Altria, the manufacturers of Marlboro and other popular cigarette brands, holds significant shares in Juul.
Vaping advocates have decried the regulation, claiming it does little more than restrict adult access and equate vaping with a much more dangerous activity. One common argument against the bill is that this type of legislation is about emotion over logic. They suggest legislators should take a deeper look at the supporting evidence, and not rely on the echo chamber of the state legislature.
We’ve known since at least 2015 that vaping is at least 95% safer than smoking thanks to research by Public Health England. While that was one of the first reports on the massive harm reduction value of vaping, it certainly wasn’t the last. In fact, a few months back researchers at Roswell Park Cancer Institute concluded the toxicants in cigarette smoke are 93% higher than in e-liquid vapor. But if that doesn’t do it for you, consider the report from the Journal of Aerosol Sciences which concluded the excess lifetime cancer risk of a vaper is around 57,000 times lower than a demographically similar smoker.
Looking past the overall harm reduction value, you still find a ton to love about e-cigarettes. For instance, we know that not only is vaping a useful smoking cessation tool, but it’s actually the single most effective, thanks to research out of the University of Louisville. Researchers tested all the most common smoking cessation tools and methods, ranging from cold turkey through prescription drugs, and found vaping was more likely to work than anything else. However, in this case, as with most cases, the primary concern of lawmakers isn’t the harm reduction or smoking cessation value of vaping, but rather their impact on teens. Luckily a report of over 60,000 students by Action on Smoking and Health concluded only between 0.1%, and 0.5% of non-smoking teens are ever picking up a vaporizer more than a few times.
We simply must push back against laws like this whenever we can. In this particular case, it’s too late, but it should still serve as an example. It should concern vapers everywhere, not just in places where legislation like this is pending. The truth is that the more areas which adopt laws like this, the easier it will be to pass them elsewhere. If we don’t fight for our vaping rights now, it may not be very long before we wake up and not recognize the vaping industry at all. That’s why we must work to teach those around us the value of vaping. The more people who understand what’s at stake, the stronger our cause will be.
Do laws like this worry you? Do you think it’s a big deal for vaping and smoking to be equated? How can we best teach others about the value of e-cigarettes? 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.
(Image Credit – Pixabay – https://pixabay.com/images/id-4582482/)