Vape ban: Good news for tobacco?
President Trump’s proposal to ban flavored e-cigarettes may drive many Americans back to cigarettes, said Christopher Palmeri and Jeff Green in the Los Angeles Times. Responding to an outbreak of hundreds of serious lung illnesses from bootleg vapes that killed a seventh person this week, Trump said the Food and Drug Administration will outlaw everything but tobacco-flavored vapes, as Michigan and New York state recently did. Flavors like buttered popcorn and mango helped create “an explosion” in teen vaping, and Trump said concern for his 13-year-old son, Barron, helped make up his mind. But hundreds of thousands of teens already addicted to nicotine—and 9 million adults who vape—may simply replace vaping with tobacco products. By banning flavored vapes, said Amanda Mull in TheAtlantic.com, Trump may be “closing the barn door after the horse has gotten out.”
Nobody vapes “because the flavor is so awesome,” said David Marcus in TheFederalist.com. That’s why Trump’s ban is so clueless. “If kids want to taste bubble gum, they can buy, you know, bubble gum.” Vaping giants like Juul need to be upfront about the fact that they’re in the nicotine business, and police themselves accordingly. They should spend billions ensuring that retailers don’t sell to minors, while rightfully touting the “scientific consensus” that e-cigarettes are safer than smoking. The combustion involved in smoking cigarettes creates tar and a host of carcinogenic chemicals not present in e-cigarettes’ watery vapor. True, but nicotine is also a dangerous and addictive drug, said David von Drehle in The Washington Post, and vaping fluid itself contains chemicals that damage blood vessels. “The idea of safe smoking” is “a lie,” and the vaping industry’s fruit- and candy-flavored pods “are proof of evil intent.”
“The massive surge in teen vapers” is a legitimate concern, said Robert Gebelhoff in WashingtonPost.com. But the evidence suggests that the lung illnesses that led Trump to act were caused by black-market cartridges of marijuana oil cut with dangerous vitamin E acetate. Banning flavored vapes will only drive more nicotine addicts and teens to the black market, which will be happy to provide fruity pods. Instead of banning flavors, the government “should empower the FDA to fully regulate the industry.” That would let science, “not hysteria, guide our policy.”
Newscom, Chip Litherland/The New York Times/Redux ■