Restricting E-Cigarette Flavors Endangers Public Health: New at Reason

Critics of the vaping industry portray the flavors that the Food and Drug Administration wants to ban from stores that admit minors as evidence of a conspiracy to hook the youth of America on nicotine. The FDA itself has a more sophisticated understanding of the market, Jacob Sullum says, but is still far too willing to sacrifice the interests of adult smokers in the name of fighting an “epidemic” of underage e-cigarette use.

“We recognize [e-cigarettes] as a viable alternative for adult smokers who want to get access to satisfying levels of nicotine without all the harmful effects of combustion,” FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb told CNBC last month. “If we could switch every adult smoker to an e-cigarette, it would have a profound public health impact.”

It follows that making e-cigarettes less appealing and less accessible has a public health cost, measured in smoking-related diseases and deaths that otherwise would not have occurred. Yet that is what the FDA’s new restrictions on e-cigarettes, which limit the flavor options in most stores to menthol, mint, and tobacco, will do.

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