Consumer advocacy group critical of California vaping regulations

FAIRFIELD — California is the “worst state for vaping.”

Typically, such a statement is followed by findings that show vaping use is high in the state, such as the report that more than 20% of high school students – more than 3 million – said they vaped in 2018, a rate twice as high as in 2017.

But the finding that California is the worst state for vaping this time comes from a report by the Consumer Choice Center, which ranks each state “based on its consumer-friendly regulatory approach to vaping products.”

“California is far behind all the other states because of its local flavor bans and its exorbitant taxation on vaping products,” David Clement, North American Affairs manager at the Consumer Choice Center, said in a statement released with the report Tuesday. He was co-author of the study. “Our research indicates California’s policies deter adult smokers from turning to vaping, which could vastly improve and prolong their lives.”

Korey Temple, 31, of Fairfield, smokes cigarettes, but has tried vaping, too. Temple agrees that the state’s regulations and taxes on smoking products are unfair.

“California spends all this money to get people to stop smoking, and when the numbers drop, the revenues drop, so they raise taxes, again,” Temple said.

“I think the state should just make tobacco illegal if they want people to stop, but they would have to find something else to tax to make up for the lost (revenues)” she said. “It’s just about money.”

Gov. Gavin Newsom in August signed into law a bill than bans flavored tobacco, with an exemption for hookah. Proponents argue the flavored products are just an attempt to get more people hooked on nicotine.

Health officials also disagree that vaping is less harmful than cigarettes, and point to some research that shows that people who vape are more likely to start smoking.

Solano County has a no-smoking policy for its buildings and its parks. It also offers a cessation program.

“Government surveys show the sleek devices – and multitude of copycat products – are far more popular among high school students than adults. While the legal age to buy e-cigarettes is 18 in most states – and 21 in California – the products are widely available online and not all sellers require proof of age. And vaping kits now come in the form of pens, flash drives, key fobs, even watches – making them both stylish and easy to disguise,” California Healthline stated.

California joined New Jersey, New York, Massachusetts and Rhode Island with “F” grades, while Virginia, Colorado, Texas and Maryland each received “A” grades” for more consumer-friendly vaping regulations.

“What lawmakers should note is that a number of states are providing a positive framework of regulation for vaping that boosts consumer choice while contributing to public health by encouraging smoking cessation,” Yael Ossowski, North American Affairs manager and deputy director of the Consumer Choice Center, said in the statement.

“Excessive flavor bans, taxes, and prohibitions on online commerce grow the black market sector and harm consumers who want less harmful alternatives to smoking,” Ossowski said. “If states want to innovate in 2020 and provide adult smokers with an alternative that is less harmful, they should look to reform their state laws to better accommodate this new technology that is helping millions.”

The report states that 25 states allow flavored vaping products with no additional taxes and no shipping restrictions. Twenty states have previous flavor bans, some taxes and a few shipping restrictions. There are five states that have partial flavor bans, high taxes and shipping restrictions.

The center stated that the focus is on state regulation of vaping, “as it plays a big part in their availability to adult consumers who want to switch away from combustible tobacco.”

The weighted scoring system analyzes additional flavor restrictions, taxes and the ability to sell vaping products online. Regulations are assessed on stringency in addition to Food and Drug Administration regulations.

States that received between 0 and 10 points received an “F” grade, between 11 and 20 points is “C” and states with points between 21 and 30 received an “A” grade.

Look at the U.S. Vaping Index 2020 

To look at the vaping index, go to https://consumerchoicecenter.org/united-states-vaping-index/


Originally published here.

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