The Problem With a Ban on Flavored E-Cigarettes
San Francisco is just one of the cities and states around the U.S. that wants a ban on flavored e-cigarettes. Well, more accurately, the state is proposing to ban flavored tobacco products and as the FDA deeming regulations have taught us, apparently that means vape products too. It’s probably a good time to remind everyone that e-cigarettes and e-juices *do not* contain tobacco, but don’t try to tell that to the FDA. The problem with San Francisco’s proposed ban is that it not only undermines the potential for e-cigarettes in harm reduction, but also that it doesn’t make sense.
For one, it doesn’t fit with the Bay Area’s progressive stance on other harm reduction issues including addiction, sexually transmitted infections and more. San Francisco has a reputation as being a pioneer with its needle exchange programs and its open-minded, sex-positive approach to addressing the issue of sexually transmitted infections. A ban on flavored e-cigarettes would be a massive departure from this approach. A massive departure that many vaping advocates think could be damaging to residents in the long run because it will eliminate a number of options that many vapers prefer after they’ve stopped having a taste for nicotine and menthol flavors.
San Francisco isn’t the first place to venture into this anti-flavor territory. New Jersey legislators have proposed a bill that wants to put a ban on flavored e-cigarettes statewide. The only flavors New Jersey wants to permit are tobacco, menthol and clove, which will cut residents off from hundreds of other flavor options they use on a daily basis.
The argument is that flavored e-cigarettes attract teens to vaping, but recent data has suggested that teen vaping is actually on the decline. That begs the question of what is the actual motivation to limiting e-cigarette flavors. Is it that such restrictions will harm the business of vape shops who already struggle against big tobacco? Will brands like blu be prevented from selling their cherry and berry flavors in gas stations?
These are all questions lawmakers in San Francisco, New Jersey and elsewhere should consider before they make a legislative move against what many people use as a means of harm reduction to snuff out the tar and ash of cigarettes.