A growing coalition is building against a proposal to ban all flavored vaping products in New Jersey, a policy critics charge is a rejection of science.
The Press of Atlantic City editorial board ripped into the pending legislation Monday, saying the state is “trying again to cripple the vaping market.” Despite ample research showing the flavors are popular among adults trying to quit smoking, Democratic lawmakers are determined to relegate and restrict the practice in whatever way possible. San Francisco recently approved the first ban in a U.S. city on flavored tobacco products, including menthol cigarettes, and officials in New Jersey are pushing a bill along similar lines.
The legislation, which is currently being reviewed by committees in both the state Assembly and Senate, only allows the sale of tobacco, menthol and clove flavors for vaping products. Proponents of the bill argue flavored e-cigarettes attract kids to the product, hooking them on nicotine at an early age, despite federal data showing youth vaping is in decline.
“These poorly grounded attacks suggest these legislators want to demonize vaping but can’t find a plausible rationale for doing so,” the Press of Atlantic City editorial board said Monday. “Perhaps their unspeakable motivation is the potential loss of much of the $921 million annual state revenue from tobacco taxes and lawsuit settlements. Evidence keeps mounting that vaping is the most effective method for smokers to quit.”
Vape shop owners in New Jersey are blasting the legislation, which they say will wipe out businesses throughout the state. Vaping advocates point out the legal purchasing age for e-cigarettes and tobacco products in New Jersey is 19, and note vape flavors primarily appeal to adults who are using the device as an alternative to cigarettes.
Public health officials in the U.S. focused on harm reduction argue policymakers could learn a lot from the British approach to tobacco addiction.
The U.K. actually promotes the sale of e-cigarettes as a health-conscious alternative to smoking, in stark contrast to U.S. policy. A study from Public Health England in 2016 found nearly all of the 2.6 million e-cigarette users in the U.K. are former or current smokers, and roughly 50 percent are actively using the devices to quit. A separate study from the the Royal College of Physicians agreed vaping is healthier than smoking.
Many medical professionals actually advise smokers to give the devices a try. A survey published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health last year found 57.8 percent of practicing physicians recommend e-cigarettes to smokers trying to quit, although the push to cast public doubt on vaping may be impacting this number.
Fears over vaping having a youth “gateway effect” to cigarettes appear to be largely unfounded. A survey from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released June 15 reveals after a rapid increase in youth vaping between 2011 and 2015, teens are now giving up the habit. The number of middle school and high school students who use a vaping device dropped from 3 million to 2.2 million in 2016.
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