There have been serious talks of raising the legal vaping age, but none of the conversations seem to be focused on consequences of such rash actions.
The primary argument for raising the legal vaping age is to discourage youth and teen from taking up vaping.
However, evidence suggests this plan could be set to backfire, causing an increase in cigarette smoking among teens.
Legal Vaping Age Pushing Youth to Smoking
The most recent study published by the National Bureau of Economic Research suggests that laws banning under 21s from buying vaporizers would push youth toward smoking traditional cigarettes, opposite to public belief.
The Minimum Legal Sale Age laws increase the cost of obtaining vaporizers, which forces teens to spend more time, effort and money in order to get vapor products.
We all know the cliched story of teens asking an adult to buy them liquor or cigarettes…
What will happen if the legal vaping age is raised when cigarettes are still readily available?
Vaping often acts as a substitute for other tobacco products. Making it more difficult to obtain vaping devices could lead consumers to ignore the substitute – which is an absolute shame with all of the evidence showing how much better they are for you. A legal vaping age increase could lead to a worse public health outcome than the one currently experienced.
Would you want high-schoolers to find regular cigarettes easier to obtain than vaporizers, even though the price in stores for regular smokes is actually higher?
This train of thought is universally counterintuitive.
[Tweet “The goal here is harm-reduction, and raising the legal vaping age would be a step in the opposite direction.”]
The MLSA Laws
The MLSA laws show increased youth smoking participation by 0.7 to 1.4 percentage points, but where does this increase stem from?
Approximately half of the increase was attributed to smoking initiation, while the other half is coming from smokers continuing to smoke rather than using vaporizers to quit. This number is likely to increase if further restrictions are placed on vaping devices!
“Taken together, our findings suggest a possible unintended effect of e-cigarette MLSA laws—rising cigarette use in the short term while youth are restricted from purchasing e-cigarettes,” the authors write.
These laws are particularly concerning from the viewpoint of health, as the risks associated with vaping are unlikely to exceed 5 percent of harm found from smoking, according to the Royal College of Physicians.
“In sum, results from our study suggest that it is unclear if e-cigarette MLSA laws have a positive impact on public health,” the authors conclude.
The study follows the precedent of three previous studies that examined the effects of MLSA laws on teen smoking. Two of the previous three studies also found these laws led to an increase in teen smoking.
In 2010, states began introducing MLSA laws. When the Food and Drug Administration deemed vaporizers to be tobacco products and introduced nationwide minimum age laws for vaping devices of 18 years old, only two states were operating without a minimum vaping age.
Warnings and Effects From MLSA Law
This paper is the most significant work to date discussing the potential consequences of MLSA laws.
Lawmakers across the country debating vaping age should heed warnings from this cautionary tale.
Hawaii and California, as well as 225 localities, have implemented a minimum age of 21 for the purchase of vapor products. However, this has been done in tandem with raising the smoking age to 21.
There are many arguments on both sides of the legal vaping age debate.
Making it more difficult for young adults to obtain vaporizers, a vastly safer product, while cigarettes remain in every gas station across the country available to 18-year-olds is hardly sensible. Moreover, it’s damn near irresponsible.
“Preventing them from legally buying e-cigarettes until age 21 may harden preferences for cigarettes and make quitting at that age more difficult,” authors write.
The study emphasizes the need for more research into the effect of MLSA laws. As the evidence stands currently, it would be silly for legislators to act hastily regarding vaporizer products.
Limiting the opportunities for young people to switch to a superior product in safety by raising the age of purchase to 21 could be catastrophic to the public health of our youth.
Read Doug Demski’s powerful testimony against raising the legal vaping age from DL-Online Below:
I started smoking at the age of 17, back when cigarettes were 45 cents per pack. Now, at age 58, I can proudly say I have been cigarette free for the past 2 years. In trying to quit, I have exhausted every product out there – nicotine gums, patches, and lozenges, pills, counseling, etc. and nothing worked. I had just about given up hope until the day I walked into our local Detroit Lakes vape shop. There, I learned about the benefits of tobacco harm reduction, and got set up with my first vaporizer. On that day, my life changed forever.
For many years, my doctor warned me that I needed to quit smoking. I had cardiovascular issues – heart palpitations, irregular and rapid heartbeat. The stress and frustration surrounding my failure to quit smoking, wasn’t helping either. Cardiovascular issues resulting in heart attack run in my family, and I was on a fast track to follow suit.
Upon switching to vaping, I quit smoking. I was blown away at how easy and almost effortless it was. Immediately, my health issues began improving. Since making the switch, my heart palpitations have stopped, and my heart rate along with my breathing has slowed dramatically and leveled out. In fact, shortly after I switched to vaping, my doctor had me listed as a non-smoker, and still does to this very day.
When I first quit smoking, I was vaping at a nicotine strength of around forty milligrams. Over the past two years I have been able to scale down my nicotine consumption and am currently down to a three milligram strength. I am slowly working my way down to zero nicotine, at which point I will quit vaping all together.
All the people out there who have never struggled with smoking, know not of the hardships smoker’s face on a day-to-day basis. I’ve witnessed public health groups and legislators try to equate vaping to smoking, treating them as one in the same. I can tell you from first hand experience (as can my doctor), that this is completely wrong. I urge anyone who is under this impression to research the subject thoroughly for themselves. Better yet, talk to any smoker who’s found success with vaping, and just listen to their story. As far as I’m concerned, just having my health care provider’s support, speaks volumes.
Restricting the use and availability of vapor products will only hurt the people that have been trying to better themselves, their health, and the ones they love. I am aware that the Detroit Lakes City Council is considering ordinance changes – proposed by tobacco-control groups – that impede on adult access and use of these products, and I vehemently urge them to vote this down.
These products are helping us smokers quit smoking, improve our lives, set better examples for our children, regain our health, and keeping us from going back to cigarettes. If shops are no longer able to help customers the way they helped me, I fear quit attempt success rates may fall. Furthermore, if the city prevents 18 – 20 year-old adult smokers and ex-smokers from accessing vapor products, they will be sending them back to smoking. If vaping had existed when I was 18, I could have saved myself from 38 years of tobacco related harm and expense.
I believe that by making the decision to switch from smoking to vaping, it has allowed me to live longer and most of all, be with the grandchildren I hope my daughter will someday have in the future.
U.S. Air Force Veteran
What are your thoughts on the MLSA Laws? Do you have a similar story to Doug’s? Would raising the legal vaping age be good or bad?
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