Politicians who ban flavors should brace for a surge in cigarette smoking and the use of questionable bootleg vaping products.

Even as states and the federal government crack down on vaping products, conventional cigarettes remain on store shelves—and pose a greater danger to public health than flavored nicotine vapes do. But to acknowledge this is taboo, at least in the United States.

Last month, the Trump administration announced its intention to bar all e-cigarettes that don’t taste like tobacco. Massachusetts recently imposed a four-month ban on sales of all vaping products—a drastic move now under litigation in state court. Other states, including Michigan, Rhode Island, Washington, Oregon, and New York, have banned all fruit and candy flavors or have taken steps to do so. Walmart, Walgreens, and several other major retailers have announced that they will stop selling e-cigarettes altogether. And last week, the company that makes Juul (the sleek device popular with teens who can afford it) volunteered to suspend the sale of all flavors except for tobacco, mint, and menthol.

The Trump administration’s decision came within hours of worrisome news about teen vaping. According to preliminary data collected for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration, one in four teens vaped at least one day in the past month in 2019—a significant increase from 2018. Days later, a study funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse reported that 11.7 percent of high-school seniors vaped at least 20 days out of the month.

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Sally Satel – American Enterprise Institute – October 23, 2019.

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