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May 24 2017

Policy Focus: E-Cigarettes: When Regulatory Overkill Actually Kills

by Julie Gunlock

Each year, nearly half a million Americans die of smoking-related diseases. Smoking-related healthcare costs exceed $300 billion a year. Convincing people to stop smoking is both a public health and economic priority.

Electronic cigarettes, more commonly called e-cigarettes, have helped in that effort. In Europe, 6.1 million people have switched from traditional cigarettes to far less harmful vaping products. In the United States, new government data reveals nine million adults now use e-cigarette products— the vast majority of whom were former traditional cigarette smokers.

Unlike traditional cigarettes, e-cigarettes do not contain tobacco and, crucially, do not burn or smoke. With traditional cigarettes, harm comes from the toxins released (tar) when a cigarette burns. As Professor Michael Russell remarked in his landmark 1976 study on harm reduction, “People smoke for nicotine but they die from the tar.”

E-cigarettes do not burn but instead contain a liquid solution made up of glycol and flavorings, and in some cases, nicotine. Vaping (the term for smoking an e-cigarette) closely mimics smoking yet is 95 percent less harmful than smoking and has helped millions of smokers quit traditional cigarettes.

Yet access to these products is in danger thanks to new FDA regulations that require all vaping products to undergo a retroactive FDA pre-approval process at a cost of $400,000 and over 500 man-hours per vaping product.

Because the vast majority of vape shops are small businesses, and most produce multiple vaping avors (each of which will be required to go through a separate approval), it’s estimated that 99 percent of all vaping businesses will close, robbing consumers and, tragically, those who are trying to quit traditional cigarettes of these vital, safe, and useful products.

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Independent Women’s Forum’s mission is to improve the lives of Americans by increasing the number of women who value free markets and personal liberty. Sister organization of Independent Women’s Voice.
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