We’re in the midst of an all-out panic over vaping, spurred by real concerns after hundreds of people have fallen ill after vaping and several people have died. While the exact causes are unknown, it’s become fairly clear that the main culprit, if not the only one, is the addition of Vitamin E oil to black market vaping liquids and cartridges, especially those that contain THC. But we’re reaching the point in our collective panic where reasonable and valid worries over people’s health are tipping over into the embrace of draconian measures that do nothing to address the real issue. As a vaper who loves her Juul, I beg of all of us—can we not???
Last week, Walmart announced it would stop selling e-cigarettes (yet will continue to sell cigarettes, not to mention rifles and shotguns). The retailer joined Rite Aid, Dollar General, and Costco in taking vaping products off their shelves. Local governments have also followed suit. In June, the city of San Francisco banned the sale of all e-cigarettes. Earlier this month, Michigan became the first state to take action, when Governor Gretchen Whitmer temporarily banned the sale of all flavored vapes, with the exception of tobacco, for six months. Michigan was joined quickly by New York, whose Governor Andrew Cuomo signed an executive order prohibiting the sale of all e-cigarettes with the exception of tobacco- and menthol-flavored vapes for 90 days. And on Tuesday, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker announced the state is banning the sale of all vaping products for four months, the strictest ban so far announced; on the same day, California Governor Gavin Newsom issued a recommendation that people stop vaping immediately. Most ominously of all, the Trump administration wants to ban the sale of most flavored e-cigarettes, citing a rise in teenage vaping as the main driver of the potential ban.
All of this is, to put it mildly, a wild overreaction and one that does little to address the actual reason people have been falling sick—black market THC products bought off of the street that have recently been contaminated. I have been Juuling for years, ever since a friend of mine bought me a starter pack in an effort to help me quit smoking. People have been vaping for even longer. Common sense would dictate that if vaping were so dangerous that we all need to stop vaping immediately, that people would have fallen sick before this summer. Banning legal products that have helped me and my fellow vapers quit cigarettes or cut down on our smoking will likely lead to two outcomes—more people picking up smoking again and more people turning to black market options to vape, which are the exact outcomes that everyone (except, I would think, tobacco companies) do not want.