Push to ban flavored tobacco products undermines…

113 points

On November 9, the Portland Metropolis Council’s Security Committee voted to approve a sweeping ban on the sale of all flavored tobacco merchandise. The total Metropolis Council is predicted to take up the measure within the coming weeks. If adopted, Portland’s ordinance would make it the most recent in a string of Maine jurisdictions — together with Bangor and Washington County — which have launched misguided crackdowns on the vaping trade.

In a presentation earlier than the Security Committee, Kristen Goodrich, Portland’s Tobacco Prevention Coordinator, asserted that 85% of younger persons are utilizing cigarettes and that “flavor bans have been proven to be effective public health strategy.” Ms. Goodrich’s info are incorrect.

In 2019, 30.2 p.c of Maine highschool college students used digital vapor merchandise on at the least someday up to now 30 days — a regarding determine, to make sure, however nowhere close to the extent Ms. Goodrich claimed. Furthermore, a rising physique of proof signifies that banning flavored e-cigarettes will do extra hurt than good.

The objective of the flavors ban is to discourage tobacco use — and a worthy goal it’s. About 2,400 Mainers succumb to smoking-related diseases every year, based on the CDC. What the ban ignores, nonetheless, are the gradations of hurt throughout the broad class of “tobacco products.”

Whereas e-cigarettes aren’t risk-free, public well being authorities around the globe — together with the CDC, Johns Hopkins Medical Faculty, and the Nationwide Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medication — agree that they’re far safer than flamable cigarettes. An exhaustive evaluate of the scientific literature by Public Well being England in 2015 concluded: “In a nutshell, best estimates show e-cigarettes are 95% less harmful to your health than normal cigarettes, and when supported by a smoking cessation service, help most smokers to quit tobacco altogether.”

Tragically, a flavors ban would steer some Portlanders away from low-risk e-cigarettes and towards deadly flamable cigarettes. A 2017 research led by researchers at Yale College surveyed a nationally consultant pattern of two,031 grownup people who smoke and up to date quitters and located {that a} ban on all flavored tobacco merchandise would trigger e-cigarette use to say no by 7.9 p.c, flamable cigarette use to extend by 2.7 p.c, and non-smoking to extend by 5.2 p.c.

One other current research discovered {that a} taste ban would trigger 17.1 p.c of grownup e-cigarette customers to cease vaping and smoke as an alternative. This means the coverage would drive some Portlanders again to the pack. In different phrases, when denied their first alternative of flavored e-cigarettes, customers break up between selecting flamable cigarettes and kicking the behavior fully.

If e-cigarettes and flamable cigarettes had been equally dangerous, then the tradeoff would make sense. However they’re not. As famous above, distinguished scientific our bodies estimate that flamable cigarettes are 20 instances extra harmful.

So, whereas a flavors ban could ship small well being advantages to e-cigarette customers who abandon tobacco merchandise fully, this acquire is vastly outweighed by the harms to e-cigarette customers who swap to flamable cigarettes.

And for the 1-in-15 highschool college students and 1-in-6 adults in Maine who at present smoke flamable cigarettes, proscribing e-cigarette flavors will cut back the enchantment of a doubtlessly life-saving different. Analysis has discovered that adults who vaped flavored e-cigarettes had been considerably extra more likely to stop smoking flamable cigarettes than those that vaped tobacco-flavored e-cigarettes.

In accordance with a 2018 research, adults within the U.S. who’ve utterly switched from smoking cigarettes to utilizing e-cigarettes are more and more more likely to have initiated e-cigarette use with non-tobacco flavors. “Restricting access to…e-cigarette flavors may discourage smokers from attempting to switch to e-cigarettes,” the authors conclude.

In making its determination on whether or not to maneuver ahead with the flavors ban, the Metropolis Council ought to heed this proof, which was ignored in the course of the Security Committee’s deliberations. Lives are at stake.

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