News of vape related lung damage — and even deaths — has been the topic of headlines across the country for several weeks. Recently, in addition to 12 deaths, the CDC reported “805 lung injury cases reported from 46 states and 1 U.S. territory.” Unfortunately, though, most of the coverage on these incidents has left out a very important detail: these teens were vaping illicit THC cartridges that were purchased from illegal sources.
However, despite proof that these deaths and injuries were related to illegal street vapes and not e-cigarettes, lawmakers across the United States are looking to put strict regulations on vape products. Many hope to ban “all non-tobacco flavors of e-cigarettes, including mint and menthol” and some states have already put these regulations into action. On the surface, this decision may seem like it was meant to keep people safe, but in reality, it will likely have the opposite result.
Not only will restricting access to e-cigarettes give traditional smokers one less option for quitting, but it’ll also make people more likely to explore black market options. According to Michelle Minton of the Competitive Enterprise Institute, “[T]he only reason these people turned to the black market was because they couldn’t acquire cannabis or e-cigarettes legally. Black markets only arise when products are unavailable or prohibitively expensive on the legal market, often as a result of well-meaning efforts to protect people from their own choices. But instead of keeping them away from substances that might increase their risks a little, restrictions push people into the illicit market where adulterated and defective products can kill them.”
Limiting access to regulated products will likely result in an increased number of health issues caused by unregulated items that contain harmful chemicals. Some traditional smokers in places that have enacted a flavor ban have said that they will likely go back to cigarettes. This is already an issue as cigarettes are responsible for over 8 million deaths per year.
Although it’s not uncommon for knee-jerk reactions to influence laws in the United States, many people feel that a widespread flavor ban could create a public health crisis worse than government officials could have imagined.
Don’t forget to check back with us for updates on the flavor ban and other vape related news.