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Early March, Value in Health Journal (VHJ) released a study investigating the impact of heavy regulation on the electronic cigarette industry. Electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS), though proven to be the most effective method for smoking cessation and being 95% less harmful than cigarettes, have been targeted by bans and strangling oversight in recent years. VHJ, after analyzing data from states starting in 2019, came to the unsurprising conclusion that tight regulation on electronic nicotine alternatives directly leads to an uptick in traditional cigarette use. 

VHJ compared information from Rhode Island, Washington, and Massachusetts. The former two states enacted flavor bans in 2019 in response to hysteria surrounding a mythical “youth vaping epidemic”, while the latter enacted a total ENDS ban the same year. In each state, cigarette use began to climb gradually following bans. Respectively, rates increased from 0.9% to 5.7%, 3.6% to 8.7%, and 3.4% to 8.8%.  

Key Findings 

  • RI, WA, and MA all saw drastic increases in smoking rates after increasing regulation on ENDS 
  • The harsher the ban was, the faster smoking rates increased 
  • Cutting off access to reduced risk tobacco alternatives always results in reversed progress in the fight to end smoking 

The states in question have not moved to reverse their disastrous policies, and many other states are considering similar legislation. State lawmakers who sponsor such policies should be made aware of the potential detrimental effects their proposals will have on public health and wellbeing.