E-cigarettes

Montana's Ban on Flavored Vaping Endangers Public Health

The debate over flavored vapes really is a debate about whether adult smokers will still have access to products that could save their lives.

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The debate over the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services' plan to permanently ban the sale and marketing of all flavored e-cigarettes has focused on two entrenched viewpoints. Supporters argue that these vaping products can lure teens into a lifetime of nicotine addiction, while opponents argue that a ban will harm small businesses and the economy.

The public debated these views last week at a two-hour hearing in Helena. Unfortunately, there's too little discussion—and no acknowledgment from state health officials—about the ill health effects of banning these products. Quite simply, large numbers of smokers have switched from dangerous combustible cigarettes to far-less dangerous e-cigarettes. Britain's top health agency notes that vaping is 95 percent safer than smoking.

Banning flavored vape products is essentially a ban on all vape products, given that virtually all e-cigarette liquids contain some kind of flavoring. Even tobacco flavors, which many vape users eschew as they distance themselves from their past cigarette habit, are an additive to vaping liquids. The debate over flavored vapes really is a debate about whether adult smokers will still have access to products that could save their lives.

"While it's addiction to nicotine that keeps people smoking, it's primarily the combustion, which releases thousands of harmful constituents into the body at dangerous levels, that kills people," notes former Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb. He argues that e-cigarettes offer smokers a chance to transition to "nicotine delivery products that may not have the same level of risks associated with them."

Teen vaping certainly is a problem, but it's nonsensical to use that concern to outlaw products that already may only legally be sold to adults. Vaping, according to a health department statement, "is causing major health consequences for our youth driving a lifelong addiction to nicotine."

That's true, but the answer, just as it is for underage alcohol consumption or other already-illegal behavior, is for state officials to enforce existing prohibitions. A sensible society reserves some activities for adults only—and simply enforces age limits and other restrictions.

Ironically, Gov. Steve Bullock's imposed a "temporary" ban on flavored vaping following a nationwide health scare—debilitating lung diseases that were reportedly the result of vaping. In the ensuing months, the Centers for Disease Control discovered that black-market and cannabis-containing vaping products—not commercially available nicotine-based ones—were almost entirely the source of the illnesses.

The problem centered on illicit products. There's an important lesson to be learned here. If states ban commercial vaping products, vapers will be more apt to buy them on the black market or, as some news reports have shown, make their own liquids based on online recipes. A flavored e-cigarette ban could thereby increase the dangers to teens and adults who choose that risky path of DIY flavors.

There are other problems with this proposal, as well. Elected lawmakers, not bureaucratic officials, should make decisions of this magnitude. Indeed, the Legislature's Economic Affairs Interim Committee on July 2 sent a letter to the health department's director, Sheila Hogan, arguing that the department lacks the statutory authority to impose a ban.

As retailers noted during the hearing, they face serious economic consequences from the proposal. "The Vapor Technology Association found that in 2018 the vapor industry created 554 jobs and $67 million in economic output for Montana and $2.6 million in state and local taxes," according to a recent Great Falls Tribune report.

Nevertheless, the main overlooked argument centers on public health—and how a ban is a step in the wrong direction. Any proposal designed to battle tobacco-related health diseases ought not to harm people who are choosing a less-dangerous course. Montana health officials need to take such concerns more seriously before they implement this proposed rule.

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  2. Elected lawmakers, not bureaucratic officials, should make decisions of this magnitude.

    Better yet, leave it to individuals.

    1. They may make the wrong decision.

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  4. Any politician who declares by law that a product with absolutely NO tobacco is a “tobacco product” should be completely ignored until the next election, then voted out.

    This is like the fascists declaring they have solved the obesity epidemic by repealing 40% of the law of gravity.

    1. If non-commerce can be commerce, non-tobacco can be tobacco.

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    2. It looks like smoking! Even if it’s got no nicotine in it, it looks like smoking!

    3. Unfortunately he’s now running for our senate position so he’s just moving from one spot to the next.

  5. Teen vaping certainly is a problem…. Vaping, according to a health department statement, “is causing major health consequences for our youth driving a lifelong addiction to nicotine.”

    That’s true

    What’s the evidence for any of that?

    1. Have you seen how they make the covid rules :p?

      1. “They,” including HyR’s correspondents, who wrote above, “Teen vaping certainly is a problem”? Why are they — two of them, yet, co-bylines — accepting that premise?

        Is their problem with teens inhaling anything but air? Like, is perfume a problem? Is the problem wih their taking in nicotine, specificaly? Like that’s worse for teens than caffeine, theophylline, theobromine, as in tea, coffee, chocolate, or colas? Show me evidence of harm.

    2. On the back of all the global climate warming change graphs, I guess.

  6. Fucking nannies. And I thought Montana still represented a more libertarian hold out.

    1. Not to lump folks but we have so many California transplants who work remotely now here it’s slowly being reshaped with their laws.

      1. They did that to Oregon so I moved to Colorado. They ruined Colorado so I went full retreat and now live in Maine.

        1. Anyplace with a large enough urban population is going to be ruined. Urbanites love authoritarian collectivism and wish to spread their love to the whole state.

          1. Good case for bringing back walled cities

            1. At least a wall along the Rappahannock. A wall along the Occoquan is probably already too late.

              1. Think they might need to extend the wall to the James the way Virginia is going

                1. Unfortunately true.

        2. Until Maine gets ruined by the NY and Masshole transplants, which is already happening

  7. Vaping was the key reason I kicked my nicotine addiction. I was smoking almost 2 packs a day. It got damn expensive. Initially that was the reason to try vaping. It was less expensive. I quickly took to it.

    Now here is the rub. Vaping and smoking are different. A cigarette you continually smoke until completed. It takes a few minutes, inhaling often.

    Vaping, you take a puff and put it down. No continual action. Early on I would puff often. A handful of times per hour. But slowly over time it was less and less. There was a incremental decrease in usage. So much so I don’t even vape any longer.

    So when I read this “for the children bullsh!t” It just pisses me off fiercely. These do-gooders always put themselves on such a high platter. In their minds, they know so much better than the stupid populace. They’re in my opinion, awful people who push their weight around and bully you into submission. I will not comply. I will resist until my last puff. From my cold dead hands!

    1. As a non-smoker, I appreciate all the people that have switched to vaping. Vapor doesn’t irritate like smoke.

      1. Agreed. I can’t be within 10 feet of tobacco smoke without gagging but I can sit right next to someone vaping.

      2. Over 2 years cigarette free. It truly is disgusting…AND my health is multitudes better. All thanks to vaping.

    2. I quit with Chantix. Side effects included crazy dreams and a constant flow of gas coming out of my ass. I was driving around with the windows down on my car in February, and I wasn’t smoking. Ugh. But it did the job. Three weeks later I was nicotine free.

      1. That’s terrific! Smoking tobacco is a horrible practice.

        1. Yes, but simultaneously one of the more pleasant ones.

  8. Gov. Steve Bullock (D).

    All you need to know.

  9. If you prioritize businesses, even the smallest and most shriveled, over the future health of our children, there’s no place for you in this country, let alone this debate.

    1. Translation: You cannot debate on the merits and so try to shutdown any and all discussion as “beyond the pale”.

      Nope, anyone can debate regardless of their views. How their claims are taken is another matter.

      1. I don’t see how “children” even fit into this debate now that you have to be 21 to vape or smoke. Of course, we are now hearing how anyone under 25-30 is still technically a child because their brain is still developing, so maybe that explains it, but then these same people think 14 year olds have the cognitive capacity to vote…

        1. Not to mention 6 year olds having the ability to force surgeries to change their outward appearance of sex.

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  11. Glad to see vaping hysteria back in the news, I was starting to get worried that maybe there was something more important going on.

  12. It’s all nonsense, certainly.

    But seriously, is a temporary vaping ban in Montana worthy of a article at this point in time.

    It seems so….teen vogue.

  13. I don’t smoke. But I don’t like it when someone smokes cigarettes or vape near me.

  14. The debate over flavored vapes really is a debate about whether adult smokers will still have access to products that could save their lives.

    Please stop promoting the progressive belief that human beings are cogs without free will.

    Adult smokers can save their own lives by choosing not to smoke. Yes, that’s a choice even available to addicts. It’s an easier choice to make if you have alternatives, but it’s still a choice either way.

  15. I’m glad reason keeps following this – it’s obviously big cigarettes that are paying for this bullshit.

    This is as stupid as abolishing birth control and preaching abstinence.

    And seriously, we put way to much emphasis on “the kids.” I could give a fuck less about your goddamn addicts in training.

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  18. Maybe it’s time to ban flavored alcohol too. For the children.

  19. Once again, ‘reason’ demonstrates that it’s not entitled to that name. If cigarette smokers are switching to vaping because of the health benefits, then flavors should be irrelevant. The fact that people want flavors indicates that they’re doing it for reasons other than improving their health. I suppose ‘reason’ would argue that if someone wants arsenic-flavored vapes, go right ahead.

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