It is a common sentiment among any rational person that no one under the age of 18 should be smoking cigarettes. Excluding the bad breath and the rising financial costs of tobacco products alone, the carcinogenic properties and the thousands of harmful chemicals are reason enough for many minors to back away from smoking.
The same goes for vaping products. Though 80 percent of youth don’t see any significant harm in the use of e-cigarette products, the likelihood of a minor smoking an e-cigarette is still slim. In general, the smoking rates among minors remain at historical lows.
The federally funded Monitoring the Future study released data at the end of 2017 that indicated that cigarette use among high school seniors has declined by more than 70 percent since 1991. One of the reasons for the decline in cigarette smoking among youth can be attributed to the evolution of e-cigarette and vaping technology in recent years. But, once you break down the numbers, the vast majority of minors still don’t use vaping products.
“Fifty-eight percent of 12th-graders who reported vaping in the previous month said their e-liquid contained ‘just flavoring.’ Even those who vape nicotine rarely do it often enough to develop a habit,” Reason.com’s Jacob Sullum wrote. The vast majority of youth responding to this survey also don’t smoke vaping products in a capacity that’s noteworthy.
There is sound reasoning for industry critics and advocates to be concerned about underage nicotine use. The calls for anti-industry regulations are misguided, nonetheless. Adult consumers of vaping products have switched over from traditional cigarettes due to the obvious benefits of not inhaling thousands of chemicals behind the burn of the actual tobacco. In most cases, e-cigarettes and vaporizers are merely water vapor laced with nicotine, flavoring and very few harmful chemicals. Unlike traditional cigarettes that have long been known to be threatening to an individual’s health, e-cigarettes are indeed less dangerous.
There is research revealing that e-cigarettes do have health risks. As with any nicotine product, the consumers will take the risk to partake and enjoy themselves. That’s consumer interest, a phenomenon that drives other “sin” industries like the legal alcohol and cannabis industries.
There are more than 9 million consumers in the United States who vape. Granted, many of these consumers report that they use vaping products while using other tobacco products. But, the difference between these consumers from that of the youth class is that these people are consenting adults above the legal age to purchase tobacco and nicotine products. These people also have the economic right to smoke because the United States remains a market economy where private enterprise and consumerism trumps the will of the government. Regulating the vaping industry as the FDA plans will threaten a massive consumer class and can drive legitimate, tax-paying American companies out of business.
These regulations include the restriction of vaping systems like Juul and Blu to vaping shops only, new e-commerce regulations for retailers that sell vaping products over the internet, and an all-out ban on menthol-flavored e-cigarettes.
“No youth should vape, and there is room for more rigorous enforcement to ensure youth are not accessing these products. However, this move by (FDA) Commissioner (Scott) Gottlieb will only serve to make it harder for adult smokers to switch to a far less harmful alternative,” Gregory Conley, president of the nonprofit American Vaping Association, said in a statement regarding the announcement of regulations.
Conley continued: “Not every town has a vape shop, meaning that for many adults, it will be much easier to pick up a pack of Marlboros or Camels — or even an unrestricted cherry-flavored cigar — at a local convenience store than it will be to make the switch to a vaping product that can truly help smokers break their desire for cigarettes.”
As the Las Cruces (N.M.) Sun-News pointed out, any new regulations and laws must have the “right balance.”
“Government should move to educate and protect youth from vaping, while still respecting the rights of adults who may benefit from this new technology,” the newspaper said. Anything less is simplemindedness.