Press "Enter" to skip to content

Understanding the Vaping Epidemic: A Renewed War on Drugs

“All of this plays into the hands of traditional tobacco companies and is likely to create more public-health harm, not less.” -Leo Beletsky

The news has been abuzz recently with concerned parents, as seven cases of fatality from lung damage caused by vaping have recently been confirmed. America seemingly views vaping through a renewed lens of apprehension, and perhaps Donald Trump had this perception in mind when asking the FDA to pull all flavored e-cigarettes off of the market. This edict, issued around a week ago, came only days after the FDA informed JUUL labs that their advertisement of E-cigarettes as a safer alternative to real cigarettes broke federal regulations. Historically, vehement restriction on drugs only creates more room for illicit markets, and, specific to this case, encourages users to instead to regular cigarettes. The ban on various E-cigarette flavors could inspire what Greg Conley, president of the American Vaping Association, calls “Do-it-yourself mixing”, in which teenagers faced with limited options in lieu of a flavor ban could combine e-liquid on their own. E-liquid is noted for its capabilities in making users sick, making this concept of casual mixing dangerous. A so-called “Grey Market” already exists, in which sellers do not check the IDs of their customers; criminalizing vape products will only create more illicit sites.

As previously mentioned, the trepidation of the Vaping Market leads many e-cigarette users to turn back to cigarette use. This has convinced many on the twitter-verse that these sudden vape restrictions are a conspiracy to bolster big tobacco companies with which politicians are affiliated. However, according to this Forbes article, stock in many big tobacco companies is actually expected to drop with these new regulations. This is due to these companies investing in e-cigarettes, rather than continuing to rely on the now-outdated traditional cigarette. So, these existing mergers between tobacco superpowers and e-cigarette companies means that everyone, across the board, is taking a bit of a hit. Therefore, dear reader, I ask you to put down the tin foil hat for now, but keep it close.

A more valid concern lies in how the restriction of vaping may spill over into existing cannabis regulations. It remains to be seen how the FDA will handle the request from White House officials, however, the corporation seems to already be cracking down. Are we regressing into the archaic model of Richard Nixon’s War On Drugs? Well, it remains to be seen, but one thing is for sure; if parents want safety for their experimenting children, supply-side economics is an oversimplified policy that simply won’t do.