Beware the unintended penalties of elevating the authorized vaping age

Efforts to cease younger individuals vaping might backfire and result in a rise in youth cigarette smoking, in line with a brand new working paper.

Revealed within the Nationwide Bureau of Financial Analysis, the research suggests legal guidelines banning beneath 18s from shopping for e-cigarettes pushes youth towards smoking standard cigarettes.

In accordance with the research’s authors, Minimal Authorized Sale Age legal guidelines enhance the price of acquiring e-cigarettes as teenagers need to spend extra effort and time acquiring vapor merchandise or paying a 3rd occasion additional to purchase them for them.

As a result of e-cigarettes act as substitutes for different tobacco merchandise, making it tougher to acquire e-cigarettes might lead customers to substitute vaping for smoking, resulting in a worse public well being final result to the one meant.

Certainly, high-schoolers can usually discover common cigarettes simpler to acquire than e-cigarettes, though the value in shops for normal smokes is definitely greater.

The research’s findings present MLSA legal guidelines elevated youth smoking participation by zero.7 to 1.four proportion factors. Roughly half of the rise was attributed to smoking initiation, with the opposite half presumably coming from people who smoke persevering with to smoke relatively than utilizing e-cigarettes to give up because of the restrictions.

“Taken collectively, our findings counsel a potential unintended impact of e-cigarette MLSA legal guidelines—rising cigarette use within the brief time period whereas youth are restricted from buying e-cigarettes,” the authors write.

The unintended consequence of those legal guidelines is especially regarding from a well being standpoint, because the dangers related to vaping are unlikely to exceed 5 p.c of these of smoking, in line with the Royal Faculty of Physicians.

“In sum, outcomes from our research counsel that it’s unclear if e-cigarette MLSA legal guidelines have a optimistic affect on public well being,” the authors conclude.

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The paper follows three previous studies that examine the effect of MLSA laws on teen smoking. Two of the previous three studies found these laws led to an increase in teen smoking while one found the reverse.

States began introducing MLSA laws back in 2010. By the time the Food and Drug Administration deemed e-cigarettes tobacco products and introduced a minimum age for e-cigarette purchases of 18 nationwide, only two states were operating without a minimum vaping age.

The paper is the most significant work done yet on the consequences of MLSA laws and serves as a cautionary tale to lawmakers across the country who are debating whether to raise the vaping age to 21.

Both Hawaii and California, as well as 225 localities, have already implemented a minimum age of 21 for the purchase of vapor products. This has been done in tandem with raising the smoking age to 21.

There are many arguments for and against raising the smoking age to 21, but making it more difficult for young adults to obtain a vastly safer product in the form of e-cigarettes is another kettle of fish entirely and makes little sense from a public health standpoint.

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“Preventing them from legally buying e-cigarettes until age 21 may harden preferences for cigarettes and make quitting at that age more difficult,” the authors write.

The study emphasizes the need for more research into the effect of MLSA laws. But as the evidence stands, it would be foolhardy for legislators to jump the gun and treat e-cigarettes just as they would conventional tobacco and limit the opportunities for young people to switch to a vastly safer product by raising the age of purchase to 21.

Guy Bentley (@gbentley1) is a contributor to the Washington Examiner’s Beltway Confidential blog. He is a consumer freedom research associate at the Reason Foundation and was previously a reporter for the Daily Caller.

If you would like to write an op-ed for the Washington Examiner, please read our guidelines on submissions here.

Guy Bentley, contributor

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