Anti-Vaping Panic Will Kill More People Than it Saves

E-cigarettes are under attack, but they are a safer way to consume nicotine than conventional smoking, says Jacob Sullum.


Every week seems to bring a new story about how vaping is really, really, really bad for you. Only a few years ago, electronic cigarettes were hailed as a new and healthier way for people to consume nicotine and pot; the number of vapers worldwide has grown sevenfold since 2011, to an estimated 41 million users. But now vaping is being attacked as a deadly habit that might be as bad for you as traditional smoking.

Reports of vaping-related deaths and respiratory illnesses appear daily on cable news shows, in newspapers, and online. The FDA is considering a ban on flavored e-cigarettes, and many states have already instituted strict regulations on vaping sales and use. Congress has voted to change the age for legal tobacco and e-cigarette sales to 21, up from 18. President Donald Trump signed the legislation into law just before Christmas.

Is vaping bad for you? Should we be panicking? What sorts of policies should govern the use of electronic cigarettes for nicotine and marijuana? To answer these and other questions, Nick Gillespie sat down with Reason Senior Editor Jacob Sullum, who has spoken extensively and authoritatively about the issue for years. Sullum argues that the current anti-vaping freakout is a classic case of moral panic, and that it is in fact making it harder for current smokers to transition to a safer method of getting nicotine or to quit altogether.

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12 responses to “Anti-Vaping Panic Will Kill More People Than it Saves

  1. no it won’t, Nickie….the black hair dye is really eating away at your brain

    1. Since the number of people who have been confirmed to have died from legal, commercial vape products (as opposed to illegal, black market products) currently stands at 0, all we need is 1 person to go back to cigarettes and die as a result of smoking for the statement to be true

  2. As for the holy mission to protect children, what things besides vaping already do more “damage”? Maybe all the crap served up on smart phone screens?

    What are the chances that self-serving digital industry vendors, from hardware makers to app writers to media, will rally behind new laws to limit teen access?

    But go ahead and pile on evil e-cigs.

  3. Gotta have a “War on…” well, something.

  4. We’re about to get new restrictions because Don thinks Barron looks like a tool when he vapes.

  5. It doesn’t really matter what evil orange man does about flavored vapes. Lots of deep blue cities, towns, and states are already banning them, so if you live in such a place and gotta have you’re flavored vapes you can try to find a dealer who will hook you up with some black market juice-and risk possibly getting shot or beaten by police, or you can move to a Trump-friendly state that presumably will not ban flavors unless he says so.

  6. Living or dying is not the important issue, the government protecting us from ourselves is the important issue. LOL

  7. That Reason supports coercive monopoly state governments which ban competition seems to be in compliance with other types of banning – or hypocritical

  8. “Kids” under 21 cannot buy cigarettes because they cannot mentally comprehend the consequences. Yet signing their lives for 10’s of thousands of student debt they should understand the consequences of.

    The tobacco lobby is so powerful they kept their product, that provide zero benefit and only kill, legal. The new regulations are just an attempt to drive competitors out of business so big tobacco can have the market as well as drive people to cigarettes by only allowing tobacco and menthol flavors. Coincidentally, the only flavors cigarettes are legally allowed come in.

  9. Thank you Nick for exposing the BS of these vaping bans. I know so many people who have quit smoking because of vapes and a couple who quitting chewing tobacco with them. Teenagers will rebel. So many of these kids vaping would have been smoking in the past. These bans are going to drive people to smoking or black market vapes which are the real problem.

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