“New Bill Allows Sale Of Flavored Vapor Products”

Across the United States, a wave of bans targeting vaping threatens the stability of the industry and possibly public health at large. Following the implementation of a federal ban on flavored vapor cartridges, lawmakers in one state are looking to allow the sale of flavored vapor products following its temporary prohibition.

The Washington State Senate approved a legislative amendment that fundamentally alters an initially proposed flavor ban. Under the new amendment, flavored vapor products are restricted to sale at 21 and over retailers only.

Vapers in the state have praised the amendment, stating that it allows them continued access to what allowed them to quit smoking. Anti-vaping activists have decried the bill, stating that anything short of a complete and total ban on vaping won’t prevent youth use and access.

Washington’s current ban on flavored vapor products is set to expire by the end of the week. With it, the new legislative amendment offers greater compromise to vapers than similar bills in other states.

Backing Off Ban

The Washington State Senate approved an amendment to Senate Bill 6254, allowing the sale of flavored vapor products in outlets restricted to adults 21 and older. While the amendment also proposes a 37% excise tax on flavored vapor products, it does remove a proposed prohibition on manufacturers holding a retailer license as well.

The Senate’s Health & Long Term Care Committee unanimously approved the amendment, although some members have expressed concern about the impact the proposed tax may have on lower-income Washingtonians. “I continue to be concerned that we are leveling higher and higher sales taxes, some of the most regressive taxes, on hard-working members of our community,” said Senator Emily Randall, a Democrat from Bremerton.

Despite these concerns, the amendment represents a compromise between legislators and members of the vaping industry and community by allowing the continued sale of flavored vapor products in retailers that do not allow access to anyone under the age of 21. It will enable the local retail industry to continue growing while also continuing to enable current and former adult smokers to access a proven smoking cessation aid.

The amendment has been added to a bill preceding the expiration of a temporary ban enacted back in October 2019, during the height of hysteria surrounding vaping. The law remains in the Senate, where lawmakers are still working out specifics on more permanent legislation.

Facts About Vaping

Public health scholars and harm reduction experts have repeatedly warned against the potential risks and ramifications of flavor bans, especially those enacted following hysteria not based on fact. In an article published in the journal Science, a group of respected public health experts banded together to speak out against blanket bans on vaping, noting no evidence that vaping is harmful, as well as the risk of forcing people back toward tobacco or the black market.

Despite repeated claims of a so-called teen vaping epidemic by lawmakers and anti-vaping activists, research from the NYU School of Global Public Health found that most teens don’t actually vape. In fact, the study, published in the journal Nicotine & Tobacco Research, discovered that over 85% of teens do not vape at all, and the few that do are not daily users.

As these public health scholars also noted, there is a wealth of research highlighting the effectiveness of vaping in helping to aid smoking cessation. A study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, found that vaping was more effective than other nicotine-replacement therapies in helping adults quit smoking and remain tobacco-free.

Vaping has not only been repeatedly demonstrated to be an effective smoking cessation aid, but multiple studies have shown vaping to be significantly less harmful than smoking as well. In fact, research from Public Health England and the Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center found that vaping is 95% and 93% safer than smoking, respectively.

Conclusions

The proposed regulations still need to be voted on in the Senate Weighs and Means Committee before advancing to the Senate floor. The more permanent regulations regarding vaping are set to pass both votes before advancing to Governor Jay Inslee to be signed into law.

While not ideal, the amended legislation does represent an opportunity for vapers to have continued access to safe, regulated vapor products. Which helps prevent former smokers from reverting back to tobacco and diminishes the appeal of the black market.

Ultimately restrictions on vaping tend to remain fruitless, as people can freely travel into less restrictive states or turn to the black market to source their vapor products. These restrictions serve as little more than political posturing, legislation designed to appease misinformed and hysterical parents that lawmakers are tackling the latest scary teen trend.

What are your thoughts on the amendment to Washington’s vape ban? What do you believe the implications will be for vapers in the state going forward? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below, be sure to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter to receive all the latest vaping news!

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