Editorial: Flavored vaping helps smokers quit

Keep vaping away from kids by restricting access, direct marketing

Just because a kid can potentially gain access to something intended for adults doesn’t mean you ban that item from being sold to everyone.

That goes for cigarettes. It goes for alcohol. And now, it seems, it goes for flavored vaping products.

The Albany County Legislature is among those government entities, including the New York State Legislature, considering trying to ban flavored vaping.

The argument supporters of the ban make is commendable — that too many kids are lured to vaping and its potential harmful effects by the fanciful flavor names like moo coffee milk, circus cookie, dinner lady mango tart and unicorn poop.

They say getting rid of the flavors will discourage kids from picking up the habit. 

Vaping has been associated with its own direct health problems, as well as with enticing kids into other harmful habits like smoking.

But while vaping might be bad for kids, it’s proven to be a godsend for cigarette smokers trying to kick the habit. 

Smoking is a notoriously difficult habit to break. Vaping products, which either contain no nicotine or very small amounts, has proven to be an effective tool in helping many smokers to quit — more for them than nicotine patches, nicotine gum and quitting cold-turkey.

Vaping gives many smokers the sensation of smoking and fulfills the habitual allure without pumping their lungs full of cancer-causing smoke and chemicals.

Flavors help draw them away from their cigarettes to a less harmful habit. So while a ban on flavored vaping products might discourage kids from picking up vaping, it also may very well deprive some long-time smokers of an effective quitting tool.

The answer isn’t to ban the flavors; it’s to put more restrictions on access to kids.

That’s already happening. The state legislation approved earlier this year to raise the minimum purchase age on tobacco products to 21 also includes electronic cigarettes, liquid nicotine, herbal cigarettes, shisha (a type of flavored tobacco) and smoking paraphernalia.

When it goes into effect later this year, it will go a long way to getting vaping products out of the hands of teenagers.

New York also can restrict access to vaping materials in stores, in much the way it does with tobacco products. And it can prohibit companies from using marketing materials that appeal to children, in the same way such advertising was banned for tobacco products years ago.

Adults won’t be lured by unicorn poop, but kids will. Prohibit the sale of kiddie flavors in colorful packaging.

Because vaping has been shown to have such a positive effect on helping smokers quit their cancer-causing habit, a ban on flavored vaping products is unnecessary and will do more harm than good.

New York state and local counties should focus their attention on keeping these materials away from kids and less on depriving adults of them.

Categories: Editorial, Opinion

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