The Corner

Health Care

Sense on Vaping

A woman smokes a Juul e-cigarette. (Ronen Zvulun/Reuters)

Michael Strain pushes back against the hysteria that is now driving government and corporate policymaking on vaping: “The current atmosphere of panic is not rooted in evidence about the effects of prolonged use . . . . The harm and toll from smoking tobacco cigarettes seems to have gotten lost in the alarm over vaping.”

But I am a bit more libertarian on these issues than Strain is.

He writes, “The problem is that overly restrictive efforts to reduce vaping among children are likely to reduce vaping among adults. This would drive adults who are addicted to nicotine back to cigarettes.” The vaping industry makes a similar case: Let’s make sure that we let adults vape instead of smoking cigarettes while cracking down on minors.

That argument undersells the public-health benefits of a liberal policy on vaping. Some subset of underage vapers would take up cigarettes if they couldn’t vape. And so their turning to a less healthful alternative is an additional problem of overly restrictive vaping policies.

Strain also endorses raising the age to buy cigarettes or e-cigarettes to 21. I see no good reason for thus restricting the liberty of a 20-year-old whom we consider able to serve in the military, deliberate over capital crimes on a jury, and participate in choosing our rulers.

Ramesh Ponnuru is a senior editor for National Review, a columnist for Bloomberg Opinion, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and a senior fellow at the National Review Institute.

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