For those of you out there who use electronic cigarettes or other vape-related products, you’re most likely aware of the fact that there is a war on this industry taking place right now. More states and major cities are banning vaping altogether in quick succession. This leaves vapers and the entire industry supporters with many questions regarding the future of this highly successful market, and lawmakers seem to be doing little to provide clarity to those affected, including the consumers, manufacturers and retailers.
There’s been quite a whirlwind of events in the vaping industry since last month, which means that it is very hard for consumers to keep up with all of the legislation being passed regarding this hobby.
Here is a comprehensive list of all of the regions across the United States in which vaping is outright banned, being threatened to be banned or temporarily banned.
How Did the Vaping Bans Start?
Before we give you the list of states and cities in which vaping is banned, we need to provide a little bit of background information. If you don’t follow the news avidly, you may have missed the anti-vaping media campaign that took place just last month. See, a string of deaths caused by respiratory illness were being reported throughout the country, and they were all being traced back to vaping. While the death toll barely reached the double digits, it still caused nationwide panic, primarily because of the way in which the media used emotion-driven language to incite enormous fear into the general public.
So, if vaping is causing deadly respiratory illnesses, it should be banned, right? Well, it’s not that simple. Here’s the thing: the media left something out. Many of these fear-mongering articles failed to mention that the vaping products that were linked to these illnesses weren’t tobacco replacement products like e-cigarettes, but THC liquids. In other words, it was those using marijuana vapes who were getting sick, not those using standard, legal vaping products that are sold commercially for those looking to quit smoking.
Even more, these deadly THC vape products were black market cartridges that all came from one manufacturer. This manufacturer was, therefore, producing illegal products and selling them without a license. And, they were infusing their formulas with a Vitamin E derivative that’s known to be potentially deadly when inhaled. This ingredient is NOT found in commercial vaping products.
So, why wasn’t that mentioned?
Well, by looking back on the last few years, the FDA has been at war with our industry for quite a while. Despite the numerous success stories of people using this technology to quit, the FDA has been going after the industry, primarily JUUL.
And, to make things even more confusing, cigarettes claim the lives of hundreds of thousands of people annually. Now, these few deaths caused by vaping are tragic indeed, but they’re not nearly enough to be considered indicative of an epidemic.
Question: Why would the government scramble to ban vaping products while cigarettes remain legal?
Of course, many argue that the tobacco industry is behind these bans. We know that the tobacco industry holds a lot of influence in Washington and uses its profits to maintain its place in our economy (MSA Money). Hence, many feel that government officials have been simply waiting for a chance to protect the vaping industry, which is the tobacco industry’s competitor, and now that chance has arrived.
States Affected by a Vaping Ban
Time to discuss the states in which a vaping ban has or will likely take place.
Washington State passed an emergency ban on flavored vape products on Thursday, October 10th, at the request of the governor. John Wiesman, the Washington Secretary of Health, stated that, “This is a critical part of our response to the youth vaping epidemic and the outbreak of vaping associated lung injury in Washington and throughout the country." The governor also requested that THC vaping products be investigated in order to prevent more deaths from occurring. It’s worth pointing out that Washington is one of the states that has legalized recreational marijuana use.
This past Sunday, it was declared that a hearing will be held in order to determine the future of the vaping industry in Massachusetts. The state had recently enacted a four-month ban on vaping, but much of the public has tried to challenge this ban, which is why the hearing will be taking place. Those who belong to the vaping industry in Massachusetts are concerned that “the ban will destroy Massachusetts’ $331 million nicotine vapor products industry and irreparably harm their business.”
The purpose of the hearing is to allow for the ban to be lifted while more investigation takes place. Those who are for the vaping industry believe that banning the hobby is unnecessary as it is not commercial e-cigarette products that are causing these health concerns.
Weeks ago, Governor Cuomo of New York declared an emergency ban on flavored vaping products in direct response to these recent deaths. Since then, the New York Court has blocked the ban before allowing it to actually take effect. On October 18th, the Supreme Court will determine whether or not the ban should actually be enacted. The executive director of advocacy group Vapor Technology Association (VTA) said of the blocking, “We are very pleased with the New York State Appellate Division’s decision, which acknowledges the strength of our claims about the State’s executive overreach, and which preserves the ability of hundreds of small businesses to remain open and continue to serve their adult customers.”
Also, it’s worth noting that recent state legislation has determined that the age at which a person can purchase vaping products has been moved up from 18 to 21, in an effort to reduce the risk of vaping products getting into the hands of minors.
On October 11, Oregon enacted a six-month ban on flavored vaping products as well as marijuana-infused vape products. This emergency ban was in response to the fact that nine people from the state have fallen ill from this respiratory illness. The ban goes into effect on October 15th. The executive director of the Oregon Liquor and Cannabis Commission, Steve Marks, has stated that “the agency’s responsibility doesn’t end at the governor’s ban on flavors and that the OLCC also will examine other additives commonly used in vape cartridges, including medium-chain triglyceride (MCT) oil and propylene glycol.” It’s worth pointing out that none of these ingredients listed have been linked to any serious physical conditions.
Michigan was the first state to enact a ban on flavored vape products. Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, the state’s chief Medical Officer, stated, “Youth vaping is a public health emergency and these measures were necessary to protect the public health.” Other state officials have pointed out that despite the fact that the ban may successfully help prevent minors from becoming hooked on e-cigarettes, conventional cigarettes remain legal, and are widely considered far more dangerous.
Rhode Island has become yet another state in which flavored vaping products are banned. According to Governor Gina Raimondo, “flavored products are aimed at children.” She continued that this fact alone makes the industry’s success a public health crisis. Now, again, it must be pointed out that the vaping industry has continuously stood by the fact that flavored vapes are produced to make vaping more appealing to adults trying to quit cigarettes, and that the industry has never intended to market itself toward minors.
California officials have discussed banning vaping products, but no real effort has been underway, and the majority of residents believe that the state will not actually enact a ban.
A couple of weeks ago, Ohio’s governor Mike Dewine called for a statewide ban on flavored vape products. According to him, “If we do that, we will reduce the health risk, and will certainly save lives.” Again, it must be noted that the governor has not made any effort to ban cigarette sales in the state. The state has also bumped up the age at which a person can purchase nicotine products from 18 to 21.
Cities That’re Affected by a Vaping Ban
In addition to the states above, a few cities and counties have banned vaping products throughout the country.
San Diego County lawmakers are trying to enact a flavor ban. Their Board of Health Supervisor Nathan Fletcher stated, “We don't know yet exactly what is causing people to be sick, but we know that they are becoming sick. We know that they are dying. We know that this is impacting teenagers and the youth, and it is time to put the brakes on it until we have properly assessed the dangers and hope to try and avert a public health crisis." Again, this statement came after it was determined that the vaping-related deaths were linked to a single manufacturer creating black market THC vaping products.
Lawmakers in Chicago are trying to enact a complete ban. Chicago Ald. Raymond Lopez stated, “As someone who has smoked since he was 16 years old, I know very well the dangers of pushing this on young children.” Bear in mind that the vaping industry denies the accusation that they’re marketing their products toward children, and also that cigarettes and e-cigarettes are two very different products.
The vaping industry is especially successful in LA, where many vaping companies own facilities. However, Los Angeles City Council is proposing a flavor ban. One Los Angeles vape shop owner, Taolo Romeo Samaco has voiced their concerns, stating that “The flavored products are already almost 80 percent of what we sell, and this would now take away at least another 10 percent. There would be no point in doing this anymore. Our shop would shut down, all our vendors might shut down. There’s no point in going on.”
The last city on this list is San Francisco, home of JUUL. SF has been trying to ban vaping products since before news hit of these recent vape-related deaths.
What Can Vapers Do?
Now, after reading this list, we can understand if you feel a sense of hopelessness about the future of an industry that has helped you so much over the years. However, now is NOT the time to give up. As you can see, a few states have turned around some of their legislation due to public outcry. Therefore, your support of our industry can do wonders, and is needed now more than ever.
First, we urge you to write to your local legislators, giving them the facts on vaping, and pointing out the hypocrisy of banning vape-related products while allowing tobacco products to continue being sold. Then, find an advocacy group that you can support whose mission is to fight on behalf of the vaping industry during this complicated time. In the meantime, you can also make sure to spread facts regarding vaping to anyone who will listen in order to combat the media’s attempts to spread lies regarding the industry.
What This All Really Means
The vaping industry has helped numerous people quit cigarettes for good, and yet legislators all over America are trying to dismantle it. While some perceive it as officials looking out for our health, the majority of vape supporters see it as something much sinister, which is the government trying to protect big tobacco. Whichever the motivation may be, there’s one thing that’s clear, and it’s that vapers deserve the right to enjoy their hobby as they’d like.