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To save lives, California must end the war on vaping

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Elected officials across California could save millions of lives by ditching misguided proposed restrictions and granting smokers access to life-saving products.

As millions of smokers across California readied their New Year’s resolutions on December 31 to kick their deadly habit for good, bureaucrats at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) had, well, other plans.

The federal agency announced a ban on flavoured, disposable vaping pods (other than mint and tobacco), making it more difficult for smokers to quit cigarettes and embrace e-cigarettes, which are 95 percent safer than combustible tobacco products according to leading medical bodies. And now, California lawmakers are furiously trying to outdo the FDA, courting restrictions on vaping products that would make federal agency officials blush.

Elected officials across California could save millions of lives by ditching misguided proposed restrictions and granting smokers access to life-saving products.

Senate Bill 793, introduced by state Senator Jerry Hill, D-Mateo, would ban all flavoured e-cigarettes, regardless of the flavour (i.e. menthol) and whether said flavour comes from a disposal pod. As a result, adult smokers trying to find virtually any flavoured alternative to cigarettes must either continue their deadly tobacco addiction or buy illegal, bootleg e-cigarettes linked to the hospitalization of hundreds of Californians.

Lawmakers believe they are doing society a huge service by banning vaping varieties such as mango and watermelon since, allegedly, these flavours are a gateway to millions of middle-and-high schools taking up vaping. Except, there’s zero evidence for these outrageous claims – and plenty of evidence for the harms this ban will cause.

According to research by the steadfastly anti-vaping Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, 96 percent of teenagers simply aren’t interested in trying e-cigarettes, flavour or no flavour. This may come as a surprise to overzealous lawmakers and regulators, but flavours benefit adults more than kids. Data from the federal government shows that, in order of preference, adult smokers prefer fruit, mint/menthol, and chocolate/miscellaneous flavours.

It’s no surprise that, in response to a 2016 Consumer Advocates for Smoke-Free Alternatives Association survey, 72 percent of vapers (of all ages) “credited tasty flavours with helping them give up tobacco.” And this is working: nearly 1 million adult vapers across California are successfully quitting cigarettes in large part because the alternative is far tastier.

In fact, the number of smokers in California has plummeted in recent years as a result of the introduction of vaping products. As of 2017, only 11.4 percent of California adults, and only 4.3 percent of high school students, currently smoke traditional combustible cigarettes. And preliminary numbers from the FDA show the number of teens smoking nationally has fallen by a staggering 20 percent on top of this over the past two years.  This is the sharpest decrease in history.

These ex-smokers are increasingly embracing a product that is far safer and healthier than cigarettes. Research from Public Health England (a part of the U.K. government) has repeatedly affirmed that vaping is at least 95 percent safer than cigarettes. But, unfortunately, policymakers in the U.S. have been frustratingly slow in accepting the evidence. This foot-dragging is becoming increasingly difficult, as millions of smokers clamour for an effective quit smoking aid after trying products such as nicotine patches and gum with little success.

A 2019 study appearing in the New England Journal of Medicine found that e-cigarettes are nearly doubly as effective as standard nicotine replacement therapy that includes conventional quit-smoking aids.

Sourced  from: www.ocregister.com

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