In what some might argue is a bid to remain relevant, the anti-tobacco zealots have been working hard to creep their mission from a war on tobacco use to a war on vaping as well.
In fact, a recent statewide ballot measure here in North Dakota would have lumped vaping in with tobacco products for a substantial tax hike. That measure was soundly defeated – over 61 percent of voters said “no” to it – which came as a surprise to many political observers (including this one). Perhaps the attack on vaping was one of the reasons why.
Because seems to indicate that, at worst, vaping is replacing tobacco use. Not increasing it as many anti-tobacco activists claim.
“New survey results deal yet another blow to the hypothesis that vaping leads to smoking, showing that conventional cigarettes are less popular than ever among teenagers despite the recent surge in adolescent experimentation with e-cigarettes,” writes Jacob Sullum for Reason. “In the Monitoring the Future Study, the percentages of eighth-, 10th-, and 12th-graders who reported smoking cigarettes during the previous month fell again this year, continuing a downward trend that began in the late 1990s.”
“At this point it is clear that whatever the risks of youth vaping may be, one of them is not the risk of progressing to smoking,” writes Boston University public health professor Michael Siegel. “If this hypothesis were true, we would simply not be seeing the historic declines in youth smoking that are occurring. Quite clearly, smoking continues to be de-normalized, not re-normalized as anti-tobacco groups and many health agencies have claimed. It appears that a culture of vaping is largely replacing a culture of smoking.”
That’s a generally positive trend. I don’t think anyone can argue that vaping is good for you. It’s not like taking vitamins or exercising or something. But as a delivery system for nicotine, it’s certainly healthier than smoking.
That’s a net win for public health, right? Which makes it curious why so many public health advocates are trying to treat vaping just like traditional tobacco use for the purposes of taxes and regulation.
You almost get the idea that these public health advocates are prioritizing their continued employment as manipulators of American lifestyle choices over, you know, public health.
The North Dakota Legislature has resisted treating vaping as though it were like smoking in the past, and taken some heat for it. But it looks like the facts are on the side of the lawmakers.