Vape shop owners are revolting against a proposal that includes vapor products in a tobacco age hike, arguing it will hurt their business and undermine public health.
Lawmakers in Illinois are proposing to raise the legal purchasing age for tobacco products from 18 to 21, something harm reduction advocates fear will reduce access to healthier products. Vaping businesses in Sycamore, a college town, argue nicotine-based electronic cigarettes should not be included in a proposal targeting tobacco and fear it will take a heavy financial toll on their shops, reports the Daily Chronicle.
They say a lot of their business relies on college students who are trading in their cigarettes for alternative smoking technologies. Muhammad Mustafa, owner of Best in the Smoker’s World in Sycamore, says he is actually noticing a steady decline in the amount of college students smoking combustible cigarettes.
“I am concerned about how it would affect business,” Mustafa told the Daily Chronicle. “I’ve been selling vaporizers for about nine years, and it’s proven to be healthier. I know that for sure because people are saying they haven’t had a cigarette in years and can breathe better. I’ve already seen a major decline in kids not smoking packed cigarettes, and it’s healthier and cheaper in the long run.”
The Illinois Senate Public Health Committee endorsed the proposal Feb. 6, sending the bill to the floor for a full vote.
Ample research proves that vaping devices drastically reduce the harm caused by cigarettes, because the majority of cancer-causing chemicals are released through combustion of tobacco.
Scientists at the University of Catania in Italy recently conducted a three-year study investigating the effects of regular vaping on the body of the user, finding “no evidence of health concerns associated with long-term use of e-cigarettes” on blood pressure, heart rate, body weight, lung function, respiratory symptoms, exhaled breath nitric oxide and exhaled carbon monoxide.
Public health experts agree that efforts to reduce tobacco use are admirable; however, they argue those efforts are bolstered, not undermined, by vaping devices. For young adult smokers, these policies cut off their access to a more effective cessation method, forcing them instead to either keep smoking or use federally approved cessation products like patches and gum.
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