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NYC Dem Pushes Vaping Flavor Ban By Spreading Fears Over Debunked Teen ‘Gateway’ Threat

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Steve Birr Vice Reporter

A Democratic lawmakers is using a widely debunked narrative about electronic cigarettes to secure a ban on flavored vaping products in New York City.

Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal introduced a bill in late September to clamp down on the sale of flavored vapor products like bubble gum and strawberry, claiming “that kind of product is meant to appeal to kids” in order to hook youth on tobacco. Rosenthal cites the infamous “gateway” theory that vaping leads to smoking, a narrative that has been widely debunked in numerous studies and ignores federal data showing declines in both youth vaping and smoking rates, reports New York Daily News.

Rosenthal, seemingly unaware about how and why vaping devices are used by adults, said “I don’t know many adults who would like to inhale bubble gum or strawberry vapor.” Clive Bates of Counterfactual, a public interest consultancy and advocacy group, has previously noted that flavored vapor products are key to helping the smoker “disconnect from the taste of tobacco” and ultimately quit.

“This is yet another attempt by Assemblywoman Rosenthal to shut down and leave unemployed the owners and employees of hundreds of vapor product retail small businesses throughout New York,” Gregory Conley, president of the American Vaping Association, told New York Daily News.

Public health officials at the state and local levels across the country continue to spread the debunked narrative that smoking alternatives like vaping, which they claim are increasing in popularity with kids, will serve as a “gateway” to regular tobacco use. Nationally, the number of teens using any tobacco product declined from 4.7 million to 3.9 million. and the number of middle school and high school students who use a vaping device dropped from 3 million to 2.2 million in 2016.

Vaping and smoking rates are falling for teens at the state level too. The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services revealed Wednesday that the smoking rate declined from 9.3 percent to 8 percent between 2015 and 2016 among teens, figures that include anyone who smokes at least one cigarette each month. Youth vaping plummeted from 16.8 percent to 11.3 percent in the state in 2016.

Americans are increasingly turning to electronic cigarettes as a way to quit smoking, according to federal data showing that former smokers made up 34 percent of all vapers in 2016.

A paper released Thursday by the free-market think tank R Street Institute reveals that the overall vaping population in the U.S. declined for the second straight year in 2016, while the share of the population that are former smokers increased, rising from 2.49 million to 2.62 million Americans in 2016.

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