Lindsey Stroud writes: “Similar to how government regulations of opioid medications helped to fuel the recent heroin and fentanyl scourges, it seems government restrictions on e-cigarettes to combat the ‘vaping epidemic’ has inadvertently increased combustible tobacco cigarette use among youth. Such is the law of unintended consequences.”
She cites data from Lancaster County, Nebraska, where legislation reduced vape product sales to minors (down from 21.2% to 5.3%) but this was coupled with an increase in teen tobacco purchases going up by over 47%.
“Although preventing youth use of e-cigarettes is a worthy topic of concern for policymakers,” Lindsey says, “data show existing regulations and industry standards are working. Findings from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) tobacco compliance data indicate there are more violations involving sales of cigars and cigarettes to minors than e-cigarettes.”
The NBER is a non-profit research organisation that is “committed to undertaking and disseminating unbiased economic research among public policymakers, business professionals, and the academic community.”
It commissioned a research project by Dave Dhaval, Department of Economics at Bentley University, along with Michael Pesko and Bo Feng at the Andrew Young School of Policy Studies Georgia State University. It looked at the impact of restricting access to vaping to over-21s in two hundred and twenty-five American localities and two states.
Michael Pesko commented on their findings: “When you make it harder to buy e-cigarettes, the unintended consequence of this action is continuing regular cigarette consumption.”
The team wrote: “Our results suggest that these laws increased youth smoking participation by about one percentage point, and approximately half of the increased smoking participation could be attributed to smoking initiation. We find little evidence of higher cigarette smoking persisting beyond the point at which youth age out of the laws. Our results also show little effect of the laws on youth drinking, binge drinking, and marijuana use. Taken together, our findings suggest a possible unintended effect of e-cigarette MLSA laws - rising cigarette use in the short term while youth are restricted from purchasing e-cigarettes.”
While nobody agrees that non-smoking teens should be vaping, few sensible heads would argue against allowing them to use vaping as a means to switch from smoking. It is clear that the on-going push to restrict access to those over 21yrs simply isn’t working.