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flavor ban

Why the Dutch vaping flavour ban won’t drive down underage smoking rates

Although noble in intent, the ban would have the opposite effect, argue the Consumer Choice Center’s Maria Chaplia and World Vapers Alliance’s Michael Landl.

Starting from 1 July 2022, flavoured e-liquids might be banned in the Netherlands. The decision to proceed with the ban – originally proposed in June 2020 – is drastically at odds with public opinion, let alone science. Combined with the EU Beating Cancer Plan’s restrictive anti-vaping measures, the flavour ban demonstrates Europe’s incessant drift away from evidence-based policymaking.

Vaping is facing such regulatory hardships primarily because it’s misunderstood. Invented as a cessation tool, vaping targets adult smokers, in particular heavy ones, to help them quit. In the UK, electronic cigarettes are even given to smokers at hospitals. And vape flavours play a crucial role in the crusade for lowering tobacco smoking rates.

The Dutch government’s reasoning for the vape flavour ban is to tackle teen smoking. As such, the goal is indeed noble since e-cigarettes should be adult-only products and strict age restrictions need to be enforced. However, if that is really the goal then the Dutch government is shooting in the wrong direction.

According to a recently published study by Yale School of Public Health, a San Francisco vape flavour ban doubled high school students’ probability of smoking conventional cigarettes. The California city saw a 30 percent increase in underage use of cigarettes for the first time in more than a decade, while other cities across the country continue to see declining rates.

“Without solving the teen smoking problem, the ban will have disastrous unintended consequences and undermine harm reduction efforts”

According to a 2017 study published in Tobacco Control, as the number of vapers in the US and UK went up, there was no increase in youth smoking. Between 2011 and 2016, smoking in the past 30 days declined from 6.3 percent to 4.3 percent among middle school students and from 21.8 percent to 13.8 percent among high school students in the US.

Without solving the teen smoking problem, the ban will have disastrous unintended consequences and undermine harm reduction efforts. In the Netherlands, 3.1 percent of adults use e-cigarettes, and, with the ban in place, nearly 260,000 Dutch vapers might return to smoking.

Flavours play a vital role for smokers who want to quit. Adult consumers, who have used vaping to quit smoking say that flavours, other than tobacco, were a decisive factor in preventing them from returning to smoking. By using flavoured e-liquids they are 230 percent more likely to quit smoking than if using tobacco-flavoured ones.

The proposed ban won’t drive down demand for flavours. What it will do, however, is boost illicit trade. As demonstrated by high taxes, marketing and advertising bans, and other restrictions across the board, restrictive policies do not achieve the desired outcomes. Despite a nicotine sales vaping ban in Australia, more than half a million consumers vape, while 2.4 million people have tried it at some point.

As demonstrated by Public Health England, vaping is 95 percent less harmful than tobacco cigarettes. Therefore, both in the short-and long-term, the Dutch vape flavour ban is too high of a price to pay, especially in light of our shared European efforts to reduce cancer rates.

“By using flavoured e-liquids they [adult smokers] are 230 percent more likely to quit smoking than if using tobacco-flavoured ones”

In light of the strong opposition expressed by citizens’ in the public consultation, with 98 percent of submissions opposing the ban, as well as the lack of legitimacy of this cabinet, the Dutch anti-vaping aspirations are completely unethical. This is a huge blow for tobacco harm reduction efforts and all the vapers who raised their voices, and it is likely to tarnish the reputation of the Netherlands.

Originally published here.

Nicotine flavor ban: A lesson in why a bill should not become a law

A few years ago, a liberal law professor friend in New York asked me to help her with a lesson. I was tasked with coming up with a public health policy that students across a wide ideological spectrum could agree upon.

I suggested a policy promoting public health education explaining how vaccines work, as part of an educational campaign to support more widespread acceptance of essential vaccinations.

This proposal met some key criteria in that it was not intrusive, it was based on science as well as common-sense, was always timely and was consistent with broad-based public health goals.

The professor reported back that my topic led to a lively discussion about policy-making and was instructive about how to govern effectively, especially in politically polarized environments.

Now I’d like to propose another public health policy discussion that reasonable people with a wide range of ideologies should also agree upon, but this time, we’d evaluate a policy that should be widely rejected.

The same type of fundamental criteria apply. The proposal should be overly-intrusive, based on neither science or common-sense, particularly untimely, and inconsistent with broader public health policy goals.

A bill so ill-conceived is now being introduced by a member of the New York State Assembly who lives in my Upper West Side neighborhood. Assemblymember Linda B. Rosenthal is proposing to ban flavored nicotine pouches used by adult smokers to quit smoking.

These pouches fall into the category known as non-combustible alternative tobacco products. They contain nicotine derived from tobacco, but unlike other forms of oral tobacco such as chewing tobacco and Swedish-style moist snus, they don’t contain actual tobacco leaf. Nonetheless, they are still regulated as tobacco products and are subject to the strict regulatory process now being implemented by the Food and Drug Administration. 

Those rules include a requirement that a product be authorized for marketing only if the agency finds it to be “appropriate for the protection of public health.” And, of course, sales of any tobacco product to anyone under 21 are illegal under federal law.

A basic tenet of regulatory policy can be drawn from the restrictions the Supreme Court has placed on laws affecting constitutional rights, which is that a rule must be specifically and narrowly tailored to achieve a compelling government interest.

In the case of a proposed ban on flavors in nicotine pouches, the stated interest is to prevent youth use of a tobacco product. In that regard, it is quite compelling.

But the rule is certainly not at all tailored to achieve that purpose. The ban would apply to all flavored products, not to minors who would purchases it. 

In fact, because these are legally considered to be tobacco products, it is already illegal to sell these products to anyone under 21 in New York, as well as the rest of the country. So essentially the law is a ban on the sale of these products to adults.

Another way to evaluate such a proposal is to ask the questions, we asked in the academic setting:

  • Is the proposal intrusive?
  • Is it based on science as well as common-sense?
  • Is it timely?
  • Is it consistent with broad-based public health goals?

Such a ban would certainly be intrusive. It would prevent adult smokers from access to a significantly less harmful alternative to cigarettes. Flavors are essential In order for products such as these to be appealing to adult smokers an alternative to a cigarette. “Intrusive” is a rather gentle term when trying to describe a rule that would take ban access to a product that could save an addicted smoker’s life.

The proposal is also devoid of any science. Although the science is clear, youth should not use any nicotine containing products, a ban on the sale of lower-risk nicotine products to adults has no evidentiary basis and undermines the well-established public health principle of harm reduction. Remember, because sales of tobacco to those under 21 are already illegal, the only legal change this rule would cause is a ban on sales to adults. So common sense, together with our national history regarding prohibition, make it clear that Assemblymember Rosenthal’s proposal fails this test miserably as well.

As New York continues to grapple with public health challenges caused by the Coronavirus pandemic, including the tragic scandal related to the state’s handling of nursing homes during the pandemic, now seems like a strange time to introduce an intrusive and unscientific ban on a product which, even the bills’ supporters recognize, aren’t being used by youth, as were e-cigarettes.

In fact, the regulations on e-cigarettes have given fewer acceptable lower-risk alternatives to adult smokers who can’t or won’t stop using nicotine. So now would be a particularly dangerous time to ban the sale of flavored nicotine products to adults.  

Finally, the proposed ban is inconsistent with broader public health policy developed by Congress and now being implemented by the Food and Drug Administration.  The FDA has consistently explained that “tobacco products exist on a continuum of risk, with combustible cigarettes being the deadliest.”  The FDA is counting on lower-risk non-combustible products, authorized by the agency, to replace cigarettes for adults who need or want to use nicotine. A state ban on products the FDA is currently evaluating as a tool for tobacco harm reduction would undermine the difficult but promising regulatory process.

The pandemic has reminded us that the government has tremendous power over everyone’s lives, even in a freedom-loving democracy as ours. But there’s a line — there are standards as outlined above that can help us distinguish between rules which promote public health and those which, no matter how noble the stated intention, serve to undermine it.

Originally published here.

Trump’s Medicare executive order

CONSERVATIVE GROUPS SEND LETTER ON VAPING — A coalition of 25 conservative groups is urging Trump to keep flavored e-cigarettes on the market, arguing the products are “essential to the success of vaping as an alternative to cigarette use long-term.”

Groups such as Americans for Tax Reform, Consumer Choice Center and FreedomWorks argued the administration’s envisioned flavored vape ban would go against the White House’s deregulatory agenda and “destroy thousands of small businesses.” This comes as the White House abruptly organized, and then canceled, a meeting with conservative groups over vaping, which it said at the time would be rescheduled.

Read the article from POLITICO here.


For more facts on vaping, read our research on the Myths and Facts on Vaping: What Policymakers Should Know


The Consumer Choice Center is the consumer advocacy group supporting lifestyle freedom, innovation, privacy, science, and consumer choice. The main policy areas we focus on are digital, mobility, lifestyle & consumer goods, and health & science.

The CCC represents consumers in over 100 countries across the globe. We closely monitor regulatory trends in Ottawa, Washington, Brussels, Geneva and other hotspots of regulation and inform and activate consumers to fight for #ConsumerChoice. Learn more at 
consumerchoicecenter.org

CCC Submission to the FDA: Flavor Bans on Less Harmful Products

To:       Food and Drug Administration: Agency/Docket Number: Docket No. FDA-2017-N-6565 RIN: 0910-AH60 From:  Jeff Stier, Senior Fellow Consumer Choice Center Date:   July 17, 2018 This document is in response to the FDA’s request for comments, data, research results, or other information about, among other things, how flavors attract youth to initiate tobacco product […]

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