Politics & Policy

Save the E-Cigs

A customer puffs on an e-cigarette at the Henley Vaporium in New York City in 2013. (Mike Segar/Reuters)

The Food and Drug Administration is threatening to take electronic cigarettes off the market if manufacturers do not find a way to stop so many teens from using them.

“E-cigs have become an almost ubiquitous — and dangerous — trend among teenagers,” FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb said in a statement. “The disturbing and accelerating trajectory of use we’re seeing in youth, and the resulting path to addiction, must end.”

“The FDA cannot tolerate a whole generation of young people becoming addicted to nicotine as a trade off for enabling adults to access these products,” the statement continued.

The FDA has given five brands — Juul, Vuse, MarkTen, Blu, and Logic — a mere 60 days to come up with plans to combat teen use of their products, according to NBC. If they don’t comply, the agency says that it might pull products with flavors that appeal to children from store shelves.

It’s a well-intentioned effort, sure — nobody wants to see minors consuming nicotine — but that doesn’t change the fact that removing e-cigs, or even options for e-cigs, from the market would be both a huge case of government overreach and a terrible mistake.

E-cigs are amazing, especially in fruity flavors, and adults who are of age should have the freedom to enjoy them. Believe me, I know firsthand how amazing they are — I have a mango-flavored Juul dangling from my bottom lip as I write this, and it’s absolutely great. I love it; it helps me write. When I wake up in the morning, the first thing that I do is reach over and grab it from my nightstand. Getting out of bed can be hard, but the little buzz of that sweet, sweet nicotine makes it a little easier each day. Is it great for me? Probably not — but I don’t care, and as a free individual in a free society, I should have the choice to inhale mango-flavored buzz-juice all the livelong day if I want to.

Even though e-cigs may have some health risks, they’re better than regular cigarettes. In fact, according to Harvard, “e-cigarettes are almost certainly less lethal than conventional cigarettes.” What’s more, they don’t smell bad. As someone who used to smoke on occasion but has been able to leave that behind thanks to vaping, I can say that I for one don’t miss the stink that cigarettes would leave on my clothes. And that taste I’d wake up with in my mouth in the morning? Yuck. These little robot-cigs are a blessing sent from heaven to save me from that hell, and I am glad that I have found them.

On top of the fact that they’re a better alternative than smoking, e-cigs have also helped many people quit tobacco entirely. There are vapes available in which you buy the liquid separately, and you can taper down the nicotine content of the liquid as time goes on in order to quit. I know several people who have done this successfully, people who used to smoke like chimneys who currently do not smoke or vape — and it was all thanks to e-cigarettes. A Juul-sponsored study of 19,000 users found that smokers who had switched to vaping outnumbered vapers who had switched to smoking by a huge margin. In fact, only 2 percent of the respondents who said they had not smoked before trying Juul were smoking when the survey was taken. The FDA keeps freaking out about vaping being some kind of gateway drug to smoking, but it seems that in reality that’s actually not a huge problem.

Even people who may not quit smoking entirely have reported that they smoked less while using e-cigarettes. In fact, a December 2017 study from the Medical University of South Carolina found that “people using e-cigarettes throughout the study smoked an average of 37 percent fewer cigarettes, showing a positive effect when making the switch and potentially serving as a tool to help smokers quit.”

I love my mango-cig, and it should not be taken away from me by the ever-meddling government. Aside from being fun (and they’re so fun), e-cigs are a useful tool that help many adults who are addicted to smoking either quit or cut back — and the last thing the government should do is to limit those options.

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