- - Thursday, March 11, 2021

Politicians in 13 states are considering bans on flavored vaping products. But flavors are the very thing that allows smokers to quit. If these politicians had bothered to visit their local vape shop and talk to the people there, they would know this.

The lawmakers are ignoring the overwhelming evidence that vaping is the best possible tool to help smokers quit smoking. A landmark study was just released proving what tobacco harm reduction experts have known for quite some time. Conducted by ten of the world’s leading experts on public health, the study determined that flavors lead to a 43% increase in the likelihood of smoking cessation. Prohibiting access to lifesaving products could lead to millions of easily preventable deaths.  

Cigarette smoking is responsible for the deaths of 480,000 Americans a year, more than 50 deaths every hour. These deaths are caused by dangerous chemicals produced when a cigarette is smoked, not the presence of nicotine. 

In the last decade, Americans tinkering in their garages and basements pioneered the most effective quit-smoking tools: e-cigarettes and vapor products. These products deliver nicotine through water vapor, mimicking the activity of smoking while removing the dangerous carcinogens in cigarettes, making vapor products 95% safer than cigarettes. 

Vaping has been shown to be at least twice as effective at helping people end cigarette use than traditional replacements and has been endorsed by over 30 of the world’s leading health organizations. A recent study by Public Health England discovered that over 50,00 smokers in England, who would not have quit otherwise, used vaping to quit cigarette use over the span of just one year. 

Vaping products are also essential to closing the gap on health inequalities. Experts at the University of Glasgow determined e-cigarettes particularly help disadvantaged people quit smoking, decreasing socioeconomic disparities in health. 

While scientific evidence continues to mount in support of vaping, state legislatures across the United States are currently considering measures that would prohibit flavors. In Connecticut, Hawaii, Kansas, Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Texas, Washington, and Vermont, legislators have proposed bans on flavored vaping products.  

Prohibiting the sale of all vaping products except for those with tobacco flavor would have disastrous consequences on public health and lead to an indisputable increase in tobacco-related deaths.  

A recent study from ten leading experts on public health, cancer prevention, and tobacco control found that cigarette smokers using “sweet” flavored vapes were 43% more likely to quit cigarette use than smokers using tobacco flavored or unflavored vapes. 

This study, published in the world’s most prestigious peer-reviewed academic journal, also determined that 48% of those who used flavored vapes quit nicotine use entirely. These findings discredit the claims of anti-vaping advocates that believe, without proof, that flavored vapor products are more likely to lead to nicotine dependencies than unflavored products. 

Another argument common among promoters of flavor bans is that flavors increase the appeal of vaping to children. Real-world evidence from San Francisco proves otherwise. When the city enacted a complete flavor ban, identical to many proposals currently under consideration, there was proven to be no effect on vape usage among youths.  

Rather, after a decade of steady decline in youth cigarette smoking rates, there has been a significant increase in cigarette use among San Francisco youths since the flavor ban was implemented. Youth cigarette usage has continued to decline in cities and states that have avoided enacting bans on flavored products. These trends provide even more evidence illustrating the danger of these anti-science prohibitions. 

Science has proven, again and again, that flavored vaping products are essential to the process of smoking cessation. Lawmakers too often choose to disregard this proof and instead support policies that will keep people smoking traditional cigarettes.  

It is imperative that legislators reject proposals that prohibit flavors in vaping products. If a majority of cigarette smokers in the U.S. made the switch to vaping, 6.6 million lives would be saved. Elected officials cannot in good faith vote for policies that would directly cause the deaths of millions of Americans. 

Cigarettes kill. Flavored vapes help people quit. Leave the people alone.

• Karl Abramson is a Policy Associate at Americans for Tax Reform.

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