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Are anti-vape laws helping or hurting smokers?

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Vaping is quickly becoming the most heavily scrutinized industry in America, which is both confusing and misleading for much of the public. We know for certain that anti-vaping legislation is being proposed all over the United States, but it may not be accomplishing what it's intended to accomplish and it may actually be causing more harm than good. In fact, from what we do know, Legislators haven't been doing much of anything with regards to changing how money is spent to combat the so-called epidemic of teen vaping and the legitimate epidemic of adult smoking. Instead, they've seemed to put the burden of responsibility on local business and online retailers to create change. But, why? Why is this the case? And, amidst all of these new laws and taxes, is anything really changing? Well, yes, but not like you might think. Let's get into it. 

The Tobacco Master-Settlement

We've spoken about this ad nauseam in the past, but the Tobacco Master-Settlement is one of the most pivotal parts of the "vaping story" in the United States. In 1998, 48 U.S. states settled with major tobacco manufacturers to create a tax system that would fund anti-smoking efforts and combat the medical costs of smoking related illnesses in each state, in accordance with the volume of cigarettes purchased each year. That's confusing - but basically what it means is this: the more money that citizens spend on cigarettes each year, the more tobacco companies have to pay the states at the end of each year. The money coming from tobacco companies was, according to the settlement, supposed to be spent on efforts to reduce smoking as well as the impact that smoking related illnesses have on the economy. 

However, as it always seems to go with the Government, that money was not spent as it was supposed to be. In fact, nearly every state used the money they believed they would receive over the coming years on things like rebuilding roads and bridges, building stadiums and airports, and funding other outside projects. Unfortunately for the state governments, vaping came along and became the most-effective way to quit smoking in generations (according to a study from the New England Journal of Medicine published in 2019). So, massively indebted from the projects they undertook, the Government needed to find a new way to pay back the money they'd already spent. Ring in those anti-vaping laws! 

Nowadays, states are using fear-mongering and propaganda, and questionable research from medical sources like Stanton-Glantz (who we can get into another time...), to convince the public that vaping is as-bad or worse than smoking. These efforts have largely been effective in spreading misinformation, and as of recently, much of the public believes their jaded story. First, it was battery explosions (although that still happens to be a hot topic for some reason), next it was diacetyl, and now? Now it's the children. 

Is Teen Vaping Really An Epidemic?

We won't spend too much time on this, because we've already written another blog on the topic. You can read that  here

However, it's important to highlight that the most-effective effort by legislators and anti-vaping figures has been to point the finger at vape juice manufacturers and vapers to say that they're targeting and marketing specifically to teens. Now, there's certainly been some questionable marketing practices by several different companies in the past, and there's been a concerted effort by advocacy groups to find and expose each of those instances, but that's not the purpose of this industry.

While it's important to weed out the culprits and continue to improve marketing practices, we're sitting here in a country that seems to be totally okay with other industries marketing to children, or using similar marketing strategies that could be confused with marketing to children and doing nothing about them. "Joe Shmoe Vape Shop" shouldn't be able to sell raspberry vape juice? Fine. But, why is it okay for a vodka brand to show commercials during the Super Bowl of their new raspberry flavored vodka? We know already that alcohol kills far more people than vaping ever has, but they're off the hook? Give me a break.

What about less obvious products, though, like video games or even toy guns? Turn on a children's television network and you'll see about 15 commercials in a couple hours that show the newest, most powerful and accurate, toy gun for kids to shoot at each other, but a non-targeted Instagram post with a picture of a vape juice bottle is the bigger problem? Again, give me a break. 

Teen vaping has been shown to be at levels lower than teen binge drinking, teen marijuana usage, and teen texting-and-driving numbers, but here we sit, getting our life-saving products taken away from us because why? Well, it's definitely not to stop kids from vaping, that's for sure. We'll get into that now.

Why Are There All These Vape Laws?

Money. Money is always the answer. As we mentioned in the first part of this article, the Tobacco Master-Settlement was supposed to be this undying source of revenue for state governments to be able to dip into whenever they decided they had a new project they wanted to undertake, but that money is drying up as adults are turning to a more desirable and far less harmful nicotine delivery system. Additionally, as legislators continue to try and increase the tax revenue for cigarettes and other tobacco products by hiking up the taxes on them, smokers, again, are looking for alternatives - ergo vaping.

Recently, with the surge in anti-vape propaganda surrounding teenage vaping, you'd think that the increase in legislation would be tied to a decrease in teen vaping, but in places like Pennsylvania that's just not the case. These laws, justified as a way to decrease teenage vaping, have actually done nothing but force small business to close their doors because they've incurred the cost of taxes and paid the price of irresponsible legislation. Here's GrimmGreen on YouTube explaining the issue pretty thoroughly in his video series "The 510 Report" - which is extremely helpful in understanding what's going on with vaping legislation.

As he mentions in the video, this legislation is both overbearing and misguided. Unfortunately, it's all about the money. And money, in this case, is really starting to become a problem for many of the states already enacting such erroneous legislation. 

In order to fill the pit that they've dug themselves by overspending, states are looking for new ways to either more heavily tax vaping, or wipe out vaping altogether, so they can get their hands back on that tobacco settlement money. 

Are Anti-Vaping Laws Helping Or Hurting Smokers?

The simple answer: They're hurting smokers because, well, they're keeping them smoking. In addition, they're limiting access to a proven less-harmful nicotine delivery system. 

We have no more to say on the subject. If you're an advocate for vaping because it helped you quit smoking, the industry needs your voice now more than ever. It's time to stand up to misinformation and propaganda, and to engage in reasonable and helpful discourse to educate as many people as you can about the efficacy of vaping. If you want to be able to get your favorite vape juice and use your favorite mod, it's time to start fighting for that right.

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