On July 23, 2021, a group of eight bipartisan legislators in the United States Senate and House of Representatives introduced the Resources to Prevent Youth Vaping Act, legislation that would force e-cigarette manufacturers to fund an anti-vaping misinformation campaign with fees paid to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
A press release that accompanied the introduction of the bill contained numerous myths, misconceptions, and downright lies about e-cigarettes and the vaping industry. It is highly disappointing that the six U.S. Senators and two Representatives sponsoring the legislation have chosen to engage in fear-based deception, rather than accepting the science on e-cigarettes.
However, the problem is larger than just a few misguided lawmakers. More than half of adult cigarette smokers, the people for who vaping was invented, believe that e-cigarettes are at least as harmful, or more harmful, than traditional cigarettes. This could not be farther from the truth, as vaping has been scientifically shown to be 95% safer than cigarettes.
Legislation like the Resources to Prevent Youth Vaping Act exacerbates this problem and will keep more adults smoking, and dying from, traditional cigarettes. As such, it is crucial to communicate the truth about vaping. Let’s examine some of the allegations from the press release.
Claim: “Electronic nicotine devices should be subject to the same user fees that the FDA assesses on the manufacturers and importers of cigarettes and other forms of tobacco” – Senator Mitt Romney (R-Utah)
Truth: E-cigarettes and traditional cigarettes share very few characteristics. E-cigarettes heat a nicotine-containing liquid to create a vapor. Cigarettes have a combustion process which creates tar and other harmful chemicals that cause cancer, heart disease, and other serious illnesses. Vaping does not have a combustion process, allowing users to consume nicotine while decreasing the harm they are subjected to. Nicotine is not a carcinogen. Rather, it is a highly addictive but relatively benign substance, much like caffeine, that does not cause short or long-term harm when separated from the dangerous chemicals in cigarettes.
Claim: “We know the numbers – more and more teens and high school students are using vapor products.” – Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska)
Truth: Clearly, Senator Murkowski does not know the numbers. According to data from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the number of underage persons who had vaped nicotine in the past 30 days decreased by 27.2% between 2019 and 2020. National Youth Tobacco Survey Data, the most recent data available, shows that past-30-day youth vaping rates are lower today than they were in 2015.
Claim: “Big Vape has hooked nearly four million kids on e-cigarettes, creating a vaping epidemic that is threatening our next generation with a lifetime of nicotine addiction and disease.” – Senator Richard Durbin (D-Ill.)
Truth: Senator Durbin’s attempt to demonize vaping manufacturers by branding them “Big Vape” is unequivocally false. The Small Business Administration, a government agency that provides support to American entrepreneurs, has correctly noted that “small businesses created the (vaping) industry and have been drivers of the industry’s major innovations”.
More Truth: There are not four million kids “hooked” on e-cigarettes. Senator Durbin would like you to believe that a teenager who vapes once or twice a month is addicted to vaping but that, of course, is not true. Approximately 3% of teenagers are daily users of vape products and 67% of daily users previously smoked cigarettes. Obviously, no teenagers should be using vaping products but teenage cigarette smokers who switch to vaping are reducing the harm they are exposed to. Senator Durbin would prefer they smoke.
Even More Truth: There is zero evidence that vaping causes disease. Shockingly, Senator Durbin is wrong once again.
The bill was introduced by U.S. Senators Mitt Romney (R-Utah), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Richard Durbin (D-Ill.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), and U.S. Representatives Cheri Bustos (IL-17), and Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-01).
Shortly after the bill was introduced, Americans for Tax Reform sent a letter to members of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, urging them to oppose this disastrous proposal. That letter can be read here.