The Problem with New York’s Proposed Vape Flavor Ban
Once again government officials are banging on the doors of the vaping industry, this time in New York State. The City of New York, and by extension NY State, recently proposed an all out ban on flavored E-Liquids. We’re not talking just a few candy or dessert flavors either, NY wants to ban every single vape juice that isn’t a Tobacco or Menthol/Mint derivative flavor.
Their reasoning? Kids are vaping! (Cue dramatic music)
Yes, kids vaping is obviously a problem, but so is kids smoking cigarettes and drinking alcohol. What do you think the odds are of New York, one of the biggest drinking cities in the world, banning flavored alcohol to prevent underage drinking? Exactly zero percent. Once again children are being used as a scapegoat for the financial interests of politicians.
Representatives from New York claim that “Vaping among high school students has skyrocketed 160 percent in four years– from 10.4 percent in 2014 to 27.4 percent in 2018”(NY Post) But let’s take a closer look at those statistics because shady politicians often like to use falsified data connections to justify their policies.
I did a deep dive on the politics behind the particular bill and included everything I could find in this blog. I know this is a long one, but I guarantee you’re going to be very interested in the data I found while working on this piece.
Let’s Be Real
Firstly, forget about kids for a second and lets remember that vaping is a relatively new technology. As it stands, there was much less awareness about vapor products in 2014 as compared to 2018.
“The number of vapers has been increasing rapidly - from about seven million in 2011 to 35 million in 2016.” (Euromonitor International 2018)
That’s a 500% increase in vapers around the world, now all of the sudden a 160% increase in underage use seems a little bit small compared to the overall usage of vaping products.
So let's try a thought experiment, imagine that alcohol was just discovered in 2010. From 2010 to 2014 alcohol was made into thousands of different flavors and everybody in the world started drinking. Governments would have to regulate alcohol strictly since it's only safe for those who are mature enough to enjoy its effects without going overboard, and it can be damaging to brain tissue that isn’t fully developed. Of course, during the initial discovery of alcohol, underage people would want to enjoy the forbidden products because people tend to desire what they’re not allowed to have, especially in the case of immature young adults.
Do you think, during that transition period, that young adult alcohol use would decrease? No, of course it wouldn’t. The levels of alcohol use would likely match the increasing awareness of this substance. So why is that percentage increase of high school vapers being used as an excuse for NY to scrutinize vape products and E-Liquid flavors?
The Issue With Targeting Flavor
NY also wants to claim that underage users prefer fruit and dessert flavors to tobacco or menthol when it comes to E-Liquid so if they ban these flavors less underage users will vape. But there’s a very good reason why fruit and dessert flavors are more popular among young adults, because most adult vapers also prefer fruit and dessert flavored E-Liquid over Tobacco or Menthol. It’s the biggest case of “no shit sherlock” that I’ve ever seen. Who in their right mind would eat a tobacco flavored cake? Or drink a menthol flavored soda? These aren’t exactly flavors that are known, or used, for their pleasant taste.
What are they going to tell us next, that underage drinkers prefer whipped cream flavored vodka over scotch? I want to know who is getting paid $40,000 a year or more, of our taxpayer money, to come up with these ridiculously obvious data points.
Seeing it in graph format makes the survey results even more obvious.
There’s concrete evidence that adult users who quit cigarettes in favor of vapor products often do so because of the appeal of flavored E-Liquids. Out of a 60,000 person survey, recently conducted by Dr. Konstatinos Farsalinos, about 54,000 users initiated E-Cigarette use because they prefer the flavors compared to tobacco and menthol. Furthermore, around 58,000 people said they began using E-Cigarettes because they’re available in a variety of flavors.
Here’s the kicker, not only did flavoring in E-Liquid have an impact on initiating E-Cigarette usage, but flavors may have more to do with continued abstinence from traditional cigarette smoking than we think. While there is a substantial amount of users who first tried E-Liquids based on a tobacco or menthol flavor, that percentage of users who continued vaping those flavors dramatically decreases over time.
The data is plain to see for anyone who has eyes. Or in the case of the NY government, anyone who isn’t already in the pocket of Big Tobacco and Big Pharma corporate interests. Flavors are a massive part of what makes vaporizers more appealing to smokers than traditional tobacco.Conclusion and A Call to Action
I don’t think there’s any need for more discussions on the topic of flavor bans. It’s clear to see the only reason for banning flavors is because flavored E-Liquids cut into the sales tax revenue from cigarettes. Politicians may say they’re interested in the health of their constituents, but anyone who votes yes on the NY flavor ban will forever be tainted by the stink of big tobacco. If you want proof, it’s easy to follow the money.
This table shows the amount of times Electronic Cigarettes were mentioned in Lobbying filings. Can you guess what company has spent the most money on lobbying against Vapor Devices? That's right, Reynolds American, the company that produces Newport, Camel, Doral, Eclipse, Kent, Pall Mall and Lucky Strikes, is at the top of the list! They have almost twice as many filings, where Electronic Cigarettes were mentioned, as the next Lobbyist group in the list.
It seems evident that, year after year, our elected officials choose money from lobbying groups over the values of the people who voted them into office. Have we gone too far to return to some semblance of a moral compass? I don’t think so. That's why I’ll personally be making a phone call to the sponsors of this bill.
I’m going to ask them why they think flavored E-Liquids are harmful and if they’ve looked into the data surrounding the rise of vaping and the fall of cigarette smoking and cancer. I’m going to ask them, is the chance of your reelection and continued campaign donations worth the health of millions of American citizens?
I implore whoever is reading this right now, if you care about vaping, if you enjoy flavored E-Liquids, or if you’re just sick and tired of Cigarette based cancer ravaging this country and your loved ones, please call these politicians and let them know it’s not too late to do the right thing.