Hi I’m Stefan Didak, I’m the founder and president of a non profit organization called Not Blowing Smoke and we provide education on policy issues regarding vapor products. I’m here today to address the part of the prohibition of sales of flavored e-liquid.
I suspect that any material and policy suggestions provided to you that refer to a prohibition of flavored e-liquid may be a little outdated. Based on the model ordinances, such as those created by Change Labs in Oakland, and often lobbied for by public health organizations, argue that a prohibition of flavored e-liquid is based on preventing youth access to these products.
Protections have always been in place and recently the State of CA passed several laws, including Tobacco 21 that raises the age to buy tobacco products, which vapor products are inaccurately labeled as, as well as crippling taxation starting April. I believe that we all agree that those desired protections are currently more than adequate. I believe these model ordinances are yet to be updated or improved upon as they currently do not reflect the reality of current State Laws.
The reality of a prohibition on the sale of flavored e-liquids is that current users of these products, which are mostly former smokers who have given up the habit by switching to an alternative that all the science agrees on is at least 95% safer than smoking, are encouraged to go back to smoking. In addition to that, it’s not that difficult to get beyond the borders of the county and buy their flavored e-liquids elsewhere. Simply put, a prohibition of flavored e-liquid only penalizes those who have found a pathway away from deadly combustible tobacco and smoke.
There is a plethora of concerns and issues associated with the mere thought of a prohibition on flavored e-liquid, including… How would this even deal with liquids that contain no nicotine? Lots of former smokers who switched to vaping are no longer using nicotine. They use these products for the hand to mouth habit and because it’s those flavors that keeps them from going back to smoking.
A mounting body of scientific evidence as well as many policy positions based on it agree that vapor products should not be treated the same as harmful combustible products as the continuum of harm is dramatically different. Treating them the same and putting over-burdensome prohibitions in place sends a signal that says “please keep smoking or quit the way we want you to quit not the way you decide to quit”.
The bottom line of a prohibition like this is that it is more likely to do public harm than anything. It allows the county to send a signal that they prefer to keep smokers smoking vs. allowing them access to much safer products that have worked for approximately 9-10 million Americans (those are numbers from the CDC). It will not provide any additional protections for youth yet will certainly affect adults in a very negative way.
I hope you take these arguments into consideration and if you have any questions I’ll be more than happy to answer them. Thank you for your time.