Congress has proposed a new federal tax on e-cigs in an effort to discourage young people from vaping. Unfortunately, the bill would also eliminate many options for adults who made the switch from smoking to e-cigarettes.
The Youth Vaping Prevention Act
Since the FDA announced its intention to regulate e-cigs as tobacco products a few years back, vapers have worried that it was only a matter of time until online sales and flavors became a thing of the past. The Youth Vaping Prevention Act of 2019 might turn that fear into a reality.
Aside from adding a federal excise tax to vapor product sales, the legislation would effectively ban most e-cig flavors. The tax is intended to ensure that e-cigs are just as expensive as tobacco cigarettes, and revenues would go toward initiatives to prevent youth vaping. New age-verification requirements for online sales would require vendors to “use delivery methods that verify the age and ID of the person accepting delivery”.
The Future of E-Cig Flavors
The bill was introduced to the U.S. House of Representative by Connecticut Democrat Rosa DeLauro, who has called flavored vapor products a “marketing tool” to get children hooked on e-cigs. Thousands of former smokers currently depend on flavored e-cigs to satiate their nicotine cravings, so throwing out the proverbial baby with the bathwater could cause some adults to fall back into their tobacco addiction.
Since most retailers rely primarily on e-liquid sales, these regulations could also be the nail in the coffin for independent vape shops and online vendors. While the bill allows some exceptions for flavored e-liquids, they are vaguely defined. Flavored vapor products would have to meet three criteria:
1. They must “increase the likelihood of smoking cessation among current users of tobacco products.”
2. They must “not increase the likelihood of youth initiation of nicotine or tobacco products.”
3. They must “not increase the likelihood of harm to the person using the characterizing flavor.”
How e-cig makers are supposed to prove their products meet these lofty goals is unclear, but if it entails expensive research trials and government fees, then only big tobacco companies will be able to afford to make e-cigs.
Is Vaping in Schools an Epidemic?
According to the U.S. Surgeon General, vaping among youth increased 900 percent between 2011 and 2015. Although rates have leveled off in recent years, approximately 1-in-5 high school students and 1-in-20 middle school students have tried e-cigs.
While the e-cig gateway myth has been thoroughly debunked, and studies have shown e-cig vapor to be largely benign, consuming nicotine can have a negative impact on the developing adolescent brain.
That said, nicotine is comparable to caffeine, which actually provides short term cognitive benefits for adults. Nicotine may soon be used to treat neurological disorders such as Parkinson’s Disease and Alzheimer’s. Most importantly, artificial nicotine helps smokers wean themselves off of tobacco.
E-cig makers, retailers and adult vapers have a responsibility to keep e-cigs out of the hands of youth. That’s why White Cloud has partnered with LexisNexis to create a thorough age verification process for our online sales. Unfortunately, the proposed legislation could set standards that are purposely too high for retailers to meet.