Teenagers are alredy addicted to nicotine, so banning e-cigs and Juuls will push them to tobacco.
Vapes, e-cigarettes, Juuls — years ago they seemed like the solution to a nationwide smoking problem. Recently, however, the movement towards electronic cigarettes has received backlash due to a number of deaths of vape users and the rising number of companies stating they don’t know the dangers of vaping. A week ago, Trump announced that he would enact a nationwide ban on flavored vape products, citing the rise of underage users as the main cause. However, this ban ignores the larger problems, like how enacting a ban after so many people rely on cigarette alternatives will either push people back to cigarettes or make them buy from illegal black market vendors, which is a considerably more dangerous choice.
When vapes and e-cigs first came out, it took time for people to make the switch over from cigarettes to vapes; now, in 2019, it’s much more common to see someone hitting a Juul than it is to see someone taking a smoke break. This ban might reverse that and push already nicotine addicted minors over to cigarettes to keep a source of an addictive chemical. This switch will cause them to subject themselves, and others, to the dangers of cigarettes. Despite not knowing the full long-term effects of vaping, it is a commonly held belief that it is a far safer alternative to cigarettes and that it doesn’t lead to second-hand smoke the way cigarettes do.
The issue with Trump’s plan is that young people are already addicted. Pushing young people away from vaping should be done with the more typical scaremongering techniques of companies like Rise Above and The Real Cost, not by fully cutting off a source and inadvertently pushing kids to cigarettes.
Although the teen vaping epidemic is obviously a problem, a ban will not fix this problem, at least not in a way that anyone wants. Recently, the CDC reported that seven people had died due to vaping, yet after deeper investigations, it was found those deaths were caused by thc cartridges that had a high level of vitamin E oil as the base. By enacting a ban on flavored vape products, many people will turn away from FDA approved companies, such as Juul, to sketchy black market pods with no knowledge of what comes in them, other than nicotine or THC. This poses a high risk and creates an even bigger problem; no one wants minors to become addicted to anything, but they already are.
This ban doesn’t address the reality of the issue: the widespread nature of vaping. Many people who are addicted to substances have no problem gaining access to the blackmarket, and by preventing access to FDA approved companies, people will be pushed to back alleys and drug dealers. For some, this can lead to worse outcomes than a simple nicotine addiction.
Trump’s decision was in good faith to prevent the rise of addiction in youth, yet the way he went about it was not in the right place. Cutting off a safe supply source will only cause people to turn to alternatives that can harm them. There are many ways to deter minors from vaping, such as taxing products or raising the legal age so their older friends can no longer buy them products. Instead of enacting a ban that affects all vape users, a better alternative would be to find a way to target the younger users in an effective way.