Amanda Wheeler: The federal decision on Juul should elevate conversation about e-cigarettes, harm reduction
New regulations fail to attract vape shops.

This vital harm reduction tool is under attack by misguided proposals that would ban flavored vaping products.

From federal regulators at the Food and Drug Administration down to town council members at the local level, everywhere you look, it seems like people are trying to rein in e-cigarettes. Unfortunately, this public crackdown is happening with little to no consideration for the role vaping plays in helping people quit smoking cigarettes.

Most people who smoke want to quit, yet tobacco-related diseases claim about 480,000 lives each year. While these deaths are entirely preventable, they’re happening because, for many people, nicotine gums, patches, medications, and other methods didn’t work for them.

As a former heavy cigarette smoker and cancer survivor who struggled for years to quit, I tried everything to break the habit. It wasn’t until one day that my husband picked up a vape from the store instead of his usual two cartons of cigarettes that we finally found a method that worked for us.

Our story is like 6.5 million other people who have given up cigarettes entirely by using vaping products.

Unfortunately, this vital harm reduction tool is under attack by misguided proposals that would ban flavored vaping products. However well-intentioned these proposals may be, they are doing more to undermine public health and putting our kids in more danger for riskier activities.

In one recent study, researchers found that young people were twice as likely to smoke cigarettes when San Francisco banned flavored vaping products compared to cities without a flavor ban.

Banning flavored vaping products also eliminates a valuable tool for millions of adult smokers who should have the right to switch to a less risky option. People generally like things that have a flavor to them, which is why 70% of adults who vape use a flavored product.

Rather than focus on the product’s flavor, we should think about how the products are marketed and ensure comprehensive educational campaigns are in place.

As a mother, I share the concerns of everyone who wants to keep these products away from our kids. My organization supports strong public health and education campaigns that have reduced youth vaping around the country by nearly 60%.

The decline in youth vaping is evidence that we don’t need to prevent adults who want to quit cigarettes from using these smoke-free products if we take the time to discourage and prevent young people from using them.

As the owner of several vape shops, we do not allow anyone in our stores under the age of 21. We card and scan every purchase made in our store, and that is how we know that the average age of our customers is 49.

We know that vaping doesn’t come without risks, but studies have found that it carries a 95% lower risk of harm than smoking cigarettes.

As we debate the merits of proposals that would put restrictions on vaping products, we cannot afford to ignore the fact that millions of Americans have successfully quit smoking using a more effective method than any nicotine replacement therapy ever devised.


Amanda Wheeler is the president of American Vapor Manufacturers.

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