California and Hawaii have successfully raised the minimum age for purchasing vaping products to 21, while twenty-two other states have also sought (or are in the process of trying) to do the same.
Temperatures rose when similar measures were debated in Dallas. Having learnt nothing from the prohibition era, politicians (supported by blinkered doctors and parents) wanted to make it illegal for some adults to use nicotine.
William Thomas has a son who, after coming out of the army, was advised to use low doses of nicotine therapeutically. Thomas said: "So, it’s totally OK for somebody at 18 to die for our country, but we’re going to stand here and criminalise nicotine use?"
Courtney Mendoza was equally incensed. She owns and runs a vape shop in Austin, Texas, and couldn’t get over how restrictions were being proposed for vape products but not nicotine patches or flavoured nicotine chews: “It’s my mother’s job to tell me not to smoke, not the state of Texas.”
Oregon’s proposal to raise the age to 21 was passed by its senate last week, on the same day that Vermont state officials also agreed that banning teen smokers from accessing something to help them quit was a good move.
Matt Dogali of the International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers association said: "We've seen this trend coming for a number of year. For the premium cigar industry, the loss of the 18 to 21 demographic isn't going to harm retailers, but it's a matter of principle. It's bad public policy."
The next states to decide includes Arkansas, Connecticut, Florida, Indiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Nebraska, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, Texas, Washington and West Virginia. It seems almost inevitable that they will all fold at some point.
The age restrictions don’t begin to cover the breadth of challenges being faced by American vapers. Minneapolis has now banned vaping from playgrounds, athletic fields, beaches, aquatic areas, lakes and rivers, ice skating rinks, parks, hiking and biking trails, restaurants, maintenance support facilities, the Minneapolis Headquarters, golf courses and temporary work zones – oh, but smoking isn’t banned if it’s part of a traditional spiritual or cultural ceremony!
Meanwhile, in Nebraska, vaping is set to be banned from all Metropolitan Community College campuses. Currently, vapers are restricted to vaping in one of the 37 designated smoking areas, but will have to wander off-site if the policy is enacted.
Citing cost savings as a result of not having to clean up after smokers and vapers, College Board member Michael Young seriously misses the point and advantages of using electronic cigarettes. Moreover, increased costs in policing such a pointless move would surely cancel out the meager $20,000 cleaning bill savings?
Land of the free? Not if you believe in harm reduction.