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Where Is The Best Place To Vape In America?

An old song says it never rains in California, but the state is nonetheless a gloomy place for people who use e-cigarettes. According to a recent study that ranked 52 U.S. cities according to their policies on e-cigarettes, California has some of the most restrictive e-cigarette policies in the nation, and is on its way to becoming the most hostile environment for e-cigarettes and vaping in the country. And this was all before the state passed a measure to raise the tax on cigarettes and e-cigarettes more than 100 percent.

The study was done by a Washington, D.C. think tank, R Street Institute. The ranking was based on city policies on e-cigarettes with regards to taxes, bans and other restrictions, plus licensing required for sellers of e-cigarettes and vaping products. The rankings include numerical scores with a base score of 95, plus grades from A down to F.

Although eight California cities got F grades, the worst city score overall was Minneapolis, with a numerical score of -10. The city has anti-vaping policies that “patently fail” to recognize e-cigarettes as a healthier alternative to smoking and the potential e-cigarettes have to reduce the harm from tobacco cigarettes, according to the study’s authors. Meanwhile, Chicago, Boston and Philadelphia aren’t doing much better, with all of these major cities getting F’s and scores below 0 in the ranking.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, Virginia Beach, Virginia was the highest rank city, garnering a score of 97 and being the only city that scored above the base score of 95. Following close behind were Albuquerque, New Mexico and the Arizona cities of Phoenix, Tucson and Mesa. Policies in these cities tend to separate vaping from smoking, and the state of Virginia officially recognizes the distinction since a state Supreme Court decision in 2010. This important distinction has led to common-sense policies based on scientific data that clearly shows significantly more harm from tobacco cigarettes than from e-cigarettes.

Anti-vaping policies in other places tend show a complete disregard for science and instead an assumption that e-cigarettes are “probably as bad” as smoking. Another common argument against e-cigarettes is “we just don’t know yet” because long-term studies have not been done. The R Street study shows that overall, the United States has a negative and “immature” attitude about e-cigarettes, which refuses to be influenced by actual facts. It calls for lawmakers to make sure that e-cigarettes remain available and affordable for adult smokers in the interest of improving public health, and at the same time, it subtly accuses governments at all levels of being primarily interested in replacing lost tax revenue due to lower smoking rates with e-cigarette taxes.

There is no doubt that smoking rates are on the decline, which means that government coffers are losing money. The question of whether anti-e-cigarette policies are actually motivated by interest in public health or by a desire to replace lost cigarette tax money with e-cigarette tax money is a question everyone should be asking. It is hard to understand why scientific data, such as a report from British health experts recommending that the UK government encourage smokers to switch to e-cigarettes, is being actively ignored by many in the U.S. The fact remains that to date, there is no serious scientific data to show any harm from e-cigarettes, and much data to support the success of smokers quitting by using e-cigarettes.

Electronic Cigarettes • April 5, 2017

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