Letter on Prevent Youth Vaping Act
July 28, 2021
To: Members of the United States Senate
From: Americans for Tax Reform
On behalf of Americans for Tax Reform (ATR), a non-profit organization which advocates in the interests of taxpayers and consumers throughout the United States, I urge you to reject the Resources to Prevent Youth Vaping Act. This misguided legislation would require e-cigarette manufacturers to pay user fees to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that would be used to increase awareness of the “danger” of e-cigarettes, even though e-cigarettes have been conclusively proven to be 95% less harmful than traditional cigarettes.
Obviously, underage persons should not use vapor products. However, there can be no doubt that this bill would increase cigarette consumption nationwide, exposing our youth to more harm than e-cigarettes could ever cause and preventing adult smokers from making the lifesaving switch to vaping. If enacted, this bill would have a disastrous impact upon public health throughout the United States, and lead to a clear increase in tobacco-related mortality. It is imperative that this proposal does not pass.
Proponents of this bill fundamentally misunderstand the science regarding nicotine and nicotine-containing vaping products. Public policy, particularly when related to public health, must take into account all available data and evidence. The Resources to Prevent Youth Vaping Act fails to consider the lifesaving benefits of e-cigarettes, while spreading misinformation that will keep adults who are dependent on nicotine smoking, and dying from, traditional cigarettes.
Cigarette smoking is the leading cause of preventable death in the United States and is responsible for roughly 480,000 deaths every year. The negative health effects of combustible tobacco come from the chemicals produced in the combustion process, not the nicotine. While highly addictive, nicotine is a relatively benign substance like caffeine and nicotine use “does not result in clinically significant short- or long-term harms”.
As such, nicotine replacement therapies, like nicotine patches and gums, have helped smokers quit for decades. In recent years, advancements in technology have created a more effective alternative: vapor products and e-cigarettes. These products deliver nicotine through water vapor, mimicking the habitual nature of smoking while removing the deadly carcinogens that exist in traditional cigarettes.
E-cigarettes are more than twice as effective at helping smokers quit than traditional nicotine replacement therapies. According to one study, a smoker attempting to quit with an e-cigarette has an estimated 323% higher chance of achieving complete cessation compared to someone using a traditional nicotine replacement therapy like nicotine-containing patches, gum, or mouth spray.
While many, including the proponents of this proposal, wrongly believe that e-cigarettes are just as harmful as traditional cigarettes, there is ample evidence demonstrating that vaping is significantly safer and exposes users to a tiny fraction of the harm that cigarette smoking causes. Vapor products have been proven to be at least 95% safer than combustible cigarettes by Public Health England, an executive agency of the United Kingdom’s Department of Health and Social Care. A separate comprehensive analysis of nicotine product harm estimates that e-cigarettes expose users to just 4% of the harm of combustible cigarettes.
There is growing consensus among the international scientific community that e-cigarettes have the potential to transform the future of public health. In fact, vaping has been endorsed by over 60 of the world’s leading public health organizations as safer than smoking and an effective way to help smokers quit.
Extraordinarily, a large-scale analysis from Georgetown University Medical Center estimates that 6.6 million American lives would be saved if a majority of cigarette smokers switched to vaping. The Resources to Prevent Youth Vaping Act would put these lives at risk and decrease the likelihood of adult smokers switching to lifesaving reduced harm products.
It would be incredibly cruel to pass this legislation and force e-cigarette manufacturers to fund FDA misinformation. The products that these businesses are creating are saving lives every day. Further, e-cigarettes have the potential to decrease socioeconomic disparities in healthcare by aiding disadvantaged populations with smoking cessation.
For example, individuals with severe mental health problems smoke at rates three to four times higher than the national average. A new study from a group of highly respected researchers and academics found that 40% of schizophrenic smokers who participated in the study stopped smoking traditional cigarettes by the end of 12 weeks. Additionally, researchers observed an overall, sustained 50% reduction in smoking or complete smoking abstinence in 92.5% of participants at the end of 12 weeks. The Resources to Prevent Youth Vaping Act would have a tremendously negative impact on public health and fail to reduce inequalities by spreading fear-based misinformation about products that significantly improve the health of adult cigarette smokers.
E-cigarettes are not tobacco products. There is no reason for Congress to impose rules and regulations that treat them as such. Vaping products are the most effective method of helping smokers quit the deadly habit of cigarettes and contrary to the claims of this bill’s proponents, there is zero evidence demonstrating e-cigarettes are a pathway to cigarette smoking. Rather, more than 60 public health organizations agree that e-cigarettes are a pathway away from smoking.
In the interests of public health, we call upon you to accept the science and oppose the Resources to Prevent Youth Vaping Act. Millions of lives quite literally depend upon it.
Director of Consumer Issues
Americans for Tax Reform