In a move that defies public health logic, the Massachusetts Senate today voted for a bill that would ban the sale of virtually all e-cigarettes, but would allow non-mentholated real cigarette brands to remain on the shelves of all stores, including convenience stores and gas stations where youth have easy access to these products.
There is simply no public health justification for taking e-cigarettes off the market but allowing youth to continue to have unfettered access to real tobacco products. The average annual death toll of these products is starkly different:
Flavored e-cigarettes: 0
Real cigarettes: 480,000
Given the morbidity and mortality burden differential between these two products, how can the state Senate ban the former, but leave the latter free to addict and eventually kill the youth of the Commonwealth?
The Rest of the Story
I'm sorry, but there is simply no justification for banning the sale of
most electronic cigarettes but allowing real cigarettes, which kill more
than 400,000 Americans each year, to remain on the shelves, almost
One of the major arguments that supporters of the bill offered to
support their call for a ban on all flavored e-cigarettes is that when
JUUL pulled its flavors other than mint and menthol from store shelves,
youth simply switched to mint and menthol flavors. But if that's true,
then shouldn't we be concerned that if flavored e-cigarettes are banned,
youth will simply switch to tobacco-flavored e-cigarettes?
If the Senate is genuinely concerned about youth vaping, then
there is no justification for it failing to call for a ban on all
e-cigarettes. By its own logic, leaving tobacco-flavored e-cigarettes
will simply result in youth switching to tobacco-flavored e-cigarettes.
OK, so you're thinking that kids are not going to switch from a candy-
or fruit-flavored e-liquid to a tobacco-flavored one? Fine, but if
that's the case, then it's even less logical to argue that kids are
going to switch from fruit-flavored e-cigarettes to the harsh,
tobacco-flavored real ones. You can't credibly make the argument that
youth will avoid the tobacco flavor of e-cigarettes, but get hooked on
the tobacco flavor of real cigarettes.
The truth, of course, is that kids are not getting hooked on flavored
e-cigarettes and then progressing to tobacco-flavored real cigarettes.
They are using flavored e-cigarettes specifically because they want to
avoid the health consequences that they all know are associated with the
tobacco-flavored real cigarettes.
So if youth are not going to switch from flavored e-liquids to tobacco-flavored e-liquids, what are they going to switch to?
The answer is THC e-liquids, many of which are packaged in kid-friendly brands
like "Apple Jacks," "Banana OG," "Birthday Cake," "Black Berry Kush,"
"Blue Dream," "Blueberry Kush," "Bubble Gum," "Candy Land," "Cherry
Pie," "Cotton Candy," "Fruity Pebbles," "Gelato," "Grape Ape," "Grape
Stomper," "Green Crack," "Honey Berry," "Honey Dew," "Ice Blue
Raspberry," "Key Lime Pie," "Lemon Berry," "Lemon Head," "Lemon
Slushie," "LSD," "Mai Tai," "Mango Kush," "Maui Wowie," "Mimosa,"
"Mojito," "Orange Chai," "Orange Cookies," "Orange Daiquiri," "Peach,"
"Pineapple Express," "Pot of Gold," "Purple Punch," "Rose Gold,"
"Russian Cream," "Sour Apple," "Strawberry Shortcake," "Sweet Aromatic,"
"Tangie," "Vanilla Kush," "Water Melon," "Wedding Cake," and
These are precisely the black market products that have led to
more than 2,000 cases of severe respiratory failure, most among young
people, with 42 fatalities.
The Senate's proposal to ban all flavored e-cigarettes would
result in a shift from flavored e-liquids to the increased use of
flavored e-joints, and it would make the current respiratory disease
outbreak much worse, potentially resulting in more deaths. Does the
Senate really want those severe illnesses and deaths on its
This is before we even get to talking about the effects that a flavored
e-cigarette ban would have on adults, which include a mass return to
cigarette smoking or entrance into a new black market for flavored
e-liquids, which might eventually result in an even worse disease
outbreak in the future, since the number of adults using these products
and thus subject to any contaminant that may arise in these black market
products will be immense.
The Senate has apparently written off adult smokers completely. This is a complete
betrayal of the Commonwealth's stated objective of reducing tobacco use by increasing successful quit rates and reducing disparities in access to
prevention and cessation services.
The rest of the story is that the state Senate has steered away from
its mission to protect the health of the public, and this bill to ban flavored
e-cigarettes would severely harm the health of both youth and adults
across the Commonwealth.