States Banning Workplace Vaping
As the teen vaping epidemic casts a harsh spotlight on e-cigarettes, more and more states are banning vaping in the workplace. As reported by Bloomberg, in the last 90 days four states have instituted vaping bans in most indoor workplaces. A fifth state, Wisconsin, is expected to soon follow suit.
In total, 17 states have banned vaping and e-cigarettes in the workplace. Across the board, nearly every state has a law on the books prohibiting vaping in schools, hospitals and government facilities.
Vaping Gets the Tobacco Treatment
It is no surprise that vaping is under siege. Critics have successfully framed it as another form of smoking, and the very existence of vaping offends a very vocal minority. We always recommend adhering to basic vaping etiquette. In our current regulatory climate, the freedom to vape dissipates at the point where it interferes with individuals who do not vape. Let us hope that the restrictions go no further than this bet of common sense.
A Human Resources Issue?
The CEO of the vaping advocacy group Consumer Advocates for Smoke-Free Alternatives disagrees with political interference and thinks workplace vaping should be an HR issue. Alex Clark argued that workers and customers would prefer if individual businesses had the flexibility to set their own policies. The crux of his argument is that vaping does not pose a public health threat to users or bystanders.
The CDC stated in 2018, “E-cigarettes have the potential to benefit adult smokers if used as a complete substitute for combustible tobacco smoking.” But the fact is that there is no right to vape. Businesses can easily ban vaping from their premises without a directive from above.
The Unintended Consequences of Vape Ban
Interestingly, workplace vape bans may not have the desired result. Rather than persuading e-cig users to quit vaping, it is likely to make discrete vaping a much more viable option.
Indoor vape bans incentivize the use of nic salts and vape pods. For more information on the science behind nicotine salts, check out the feature deep-dive, “What is Salt Nic?”
There is no easier way to reduce the visibility and duration of your vaping than ramping up the potency of the nicotine inhaled. This is one reason why vape pods are so popular with minors.
Earlier this spring, the strictest e-cig laws to date were proposed in Congress. The strict e-cig law and flavor ban would benefit Juul-Altria. The authors of this law either did not perform their due diligence, were unduly influenced or intentionally obtuse.
Washington Promotes Nic Salts and Punishes Marginalized Groups
The state of Washington also promoted nic salts and punished members of marginalized groups that vape. They passed a bizarre law that taxed ejuice by volume and not by nicotine. You would think the end game is making vapers use as potent of ejuice as possible.
Interestingly, in the UK there is a cap on nicotine potency. Even pods cannot exceed 2 percent, which is less than half, or even a third, of many prefilled pod systems. Does this explain why a country that promotes vaping over smoking, to the point where the London Fire Brigade endorses vaping and says outright that vaping reduces house fires, still has a lower rate of teen ecig use than the US?
When it comes to vaping indoors, I am not arguing for a free for all where I can blow zero nicotine blueberry vape clouds in the face of anyone who enters my office. But I think it is worth noting that the idea that banning vaping will make it go away is a pipe dream.
If opponents of vaping want it out of sight, and prefer it if vapers use tiny devices with high nicotine, mission accomplished. This is at least realistic. Our review of Top Ten Juul Alternatives demonstrates how vibrant the refillable vape pod market is.
It is realistic to expect vapers to take small puffs of potent nicotine. The prohibitionist gold standard of total nicotine abstinence is outmoded, and simply drives vapers to smoke.
Future of Vaping in the Balance
We have reached a bizarre turning point for vaping. Flavor bans and taxing of ejuice by volume have the effect of promoting small, nic salt devices like Juul. The truth and technology behind Juul is explained in this feature.
Yet this is the very device that is blamed for the increase in teen vaping, fairly or unfairly, and has drawn so much negative attention on the e-cig industry. RJ Reynolds blames Juul for Teen Vaping, and the US Senate is investigating Juul.
Stanford E-Cig Marketing Study
The foundation of the case against Juul's marketing strategy is shakier than vaping critics realize. For evidence, a shoddy Stanford study on e-cig marketing is one of their key pieces of evidence against Juul.
This study is nothing more than a soft-science slideshow with anti-vaping captions. It is an insult to real researchers. It is not hyperbole to say that it reflects poorly on both the university and liberal arts in general.
The Stanford e-cig marketing study includes such rigorous observations as, “Some attendees were photographed in poses reminiscent of teen behavior, such as wearing a hat on backwards, while holding a skate board, or a girl with purple hair holding a Juul.”
The Stanford study also had an overtly misogynistic tilt, complaining about ““Photos show attractive young girls in colorful Juul tee shirts serving as hosts and distributors of free samples.” Below is their image of “young girls”. Clearly adult women. Would men of a similar age be referred to as “young boys”.
Side note, millennial does not equal minor. They are between 24 and 38 years of age. The substantial dip in smoking rates does not cover their generation.
Opponents of Vaping
What is less disputable is that a large, albeit ill-informed, chunk of the political class and population has decided that the lives of smokers and former smokers are less important than stamping out the uptick in teenagers using e-cigarettes. Iowa AG Thomas Miller warned the FDA about this potential fallout but his protestations were largely ignored by anti-vapers.
The legacy of FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb is a bit more nuanced in this regard. He freely conceded that it was a net benefit if all smokers switched to vaping. But it was not until the end of his tenure that he also realized that high nicotine levels, and not flavors, were potentially responsible the surge in teen vaping.
Is it fair to assume that once these teenagers reach adulthood that their well-being will no longer be a national priority? It seems like this might be the case, as restrictive ecig laws could have the unintended consequence of driving them into the arms of big tobacco.
Fruit Flavor Fallacy
A major issue that threatens the vaping industry is a fixation on the sweet cereal, fruit and dessert flavors preferred by adult vapers. These flavors are a crucial component of a false narrative, and are erroneously tied-in with the vaping preferences of teens.
Retro e-juice packaging targets nostalgic adults. Fancy and whimsical flavors are used almost exclusively in the mod devices that middle aged vapers use. The most popular flavor among teenagers: Juul Mint. This pod avoids many of the restrictions imposed as it is a menthol themed, and so small that it is not taxed heavily by volume.
You also have a city that enacts humane policies such as needle exchanges, and safe injection sites to support IV drug users, yet also bans ecigarettes. Are the lives of former smokers less valuable than those in throes of active addiction? The San Francisco e-cig ban certainly suggests this is the case.
Why Vaping is the Target
The reason that vaping makes such an easy target is that the wealthy ceased smoking a few decades back. There are simply not enough vapers with access to the levers of power to make a case for e-cigarettes.
As far as politicians are concerned, vaping is an alien habit. It remains poorly understood, is viewed as disreputable and is seen as corrupting America's youth. At Vapor4Life, we are totally opposed to minors vaping and view it as an existential threat to vaping.
Alcohol is a scourge that kills thousands of teenagers annually, but is not under the pressure that vaping is. Far more teenagers binge drink than vape, but the wealthy and most highly educated adults imbibe more frequently than any other group.
At the same time, strict e-cig laws punish marginalized groups. A CDC study, “Cigarette Smoking and Tobacco Use among People of Low Socioeconomic Status” outlines the grim impact that smoking has on the less affluent. Adults with less than a high school education succeed in quitting cigarettes only 43.5 percent of the time versus 73.9 percent for college graduates.
Adults earning more than twice the poverty line are half as likely to smoke as adults living below the poverty line. A study in the high impact New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) demonstrates how e-cigarettes could shatter this paradigm. In this study, vaping crushed nicotine replacement as a smoking cessation tool. LGBTQ Plus community, rural and African Americans bear the brunt of brunt of laws like California’s virtual e-cig prohibition proposal.
Yet there are e-cig sin taxes in Illinois, and unrelenting pressure to ban flavors. This week Illinois legalized recreational marijuana. Apparently, puritanical efforts to purge habits that are viewed as unsavory don’t work. Far more teens smoke marijuana than vape. Full stop.
The judiciary is getting in on the action too. A Federal judge ordered the FDA to speed up review of ecigs, citing hackneyed complaints about flavored vape juice that have nothing to do with what today’s youth are vaping.