Californians have heard the constant anti-vaping ads, claiming that flavored nicotine vape products disproportionately attract teen users and need to be outlawed.
In 2019, San Francisco Mayor London Breed signed into law a vaping ban, passed 11-0 by the county board of supervisors, on the sale of e-cigarettes and all relevant paraphernalia. Steven Greenhut with the R Street Institute, has written extensively about the attempts – and successes – of government to control and even ban vaping. “Welcome to tolerant San Francisco, where you have every right to live as you please as long as you choose only to do the things that are socially acceptable,” Greenhut said. “If you want to shoot up or take a dump in the street, that’s OK given that you are a victim of society. If you want to, say, smoke tobacco or vape, forget about it.”
Greenhut even recounts a trip to San Francisco where he was walking down the street smoking a cigar and was hard-timed for it. “I was far from any other human being and close to the world’s biggest air filter (the Pacific Ocean), and yet someone hectored me,” Greenhut said. “Had I been smoking weed, no one would have dared to say a word — nor should they have, given that marijuana is appropriately legal here. Welcome to tolerant San Francisco, where you have every right to live as you please as long as you choose only to do the things that are socially acceptable.”
And now, both Los Angeles and San Jose are expected to hold votes on proposed tobacco flavoring bans very soon in an attempt by anti-tobacco campaigners to get ahead of next year’s referendum on the statewide tobacco flavoring ban passed by the California legislature and signed into law by Gov. Gavin Newsom in 2020.
If the proposed ordinances pass in both cities, it will come with controversy given new research showing some very adverse effects of tobacco flavoring bans for actual cigarette consumption.
It also could come against the backdrop of FDA action either allowing, or banning, vapor giant Juul from continuing to market its products.
According to Yale University researchers:
“after the [2018 San Francisco tobacco flavoring] ban’s implementation, high school students’ odds of smoking conventional cigarettes doubled in San Francisco’s school district relative to trends in districts without the ban, even when adjusting for individual demographics and other tobacco policies.”
Yale researcher Abigail Friedman explained: “While neither smoking cigarettes nor vaping nicotine are safe per se, the bulk of current evidence indicates substantially greater harms from smoking, which is responsible for nearly one in five adult deaths annually. Even if it is well-intentioned, a law that increases youth smoking could pose a threat to public health.”
A more recent Oxford University Press-published study found similar results, that “if ‘vape product sales were restricted to tobacco flavors,’ one-third of US vapers aged 18 to 34 say they’ll switch to smoking.”
In 2019, Henry I. Miller, M.S., M.D. and senior fellow at the Pacific Research Institute, and Jeff Stier, J.D., a Senior Fellow at the Consumer Choice Center published an article at the Pacific Research Institute concluding the vaping hysteria and disinformation campaign will lead to more tobacco deaths. Miller and Stier said the not-so-hidden agenda behind the scare is to fool lawmakers into thinking e-cigarettes are as dangerous or more dangerous than “combustible cigarettes,” causing them to regulate these lower-risk alternatives inappropriately. This, too, will prevent smokers from quitting.
The conclusion that flavoring bans push people to conventional, carcinogenic cigarettes is one that New York University expert Ray Niaura also finds credible. In a recent interview, Niaura said that with flavoring bans, “Not only younger vapers, but older vapers run into difficulties either getting the products or getting the products they like, and then unfortunately, it’s still easy to get cigarettes almost anywhere. So it’s not surprising that people turn back to those products when the restrictions become really tight on vaping products, the availability of vaping products, flavor bans, etc. My worry is that it’s a retrogressive kind of strategy [banning flavors as a backdoor to banning all vaping products], that you get in the front door with this issue regarding kids and then you keep pushing until you ban the products outright. The irony is the Tobacco Control Act basically says that you cannot make cigarettes illegal, so if you ban all these products, cigarettes will still be legal. Do we want a world where we are just left with cigarettes?”
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