Clueless politicians have once again turned a non-crisis into a political circus in Massachusetts as the state became the first in the nation to ban all vaping products. The ban is a reaction to what health officials are calling an "outbreak" of vaping-related illnesses but will inevitably do far more harm than good.
As TFTP reported last week, the Trump administration announced a sweeping ban of flavored e-cigarettes under the ostensible caring notion of stopping children from vaping. Now, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker has taken it one step further and banned all in-store and online sales of vaping products, including cannabis.
"We as a commonwealth need to pause sales in order for our medical experts to collect more information about what is driving these life-threatening vaping-related illnesses," Baker said. "We also need to better understand the inherent dangers of vaping both nicotine and marijuana. With all this information we can then develop a set of targeted measures and response."
"First of all, we expect compliance," Health Secretary Marylou Sudders said. "Second is we have the capacity through the local boards of health to institute fines, and/or up to confiscation of products if they're not removed from the shelves."
While it is important to try to understand the cause of this respiratory illness, the idea that a vaping ban will help solve anything is as absurd as it is tyrannical. It will undoubtedly drive vape users back to cigarettes and create a dangerous black market which is likely responsible for the outbreak in the first place.
“A lot of ex-smokers will go back to smoking,” said Dr. Michael Siegel, a professor and tobacco control expert at Boston University.
“They’re addicted to nicotine. If their products are taken off the shelf, most won’t be able to quit cold turkey. There will be no way for them to get their products, so they’ll go back to smoking,” he added.
He's right and the stock market knows it. On news of the vaping ban, Philip Morris, the big tobacco company whose annual revenue last year was $79 billion from their popular cigarette brands like Marlboro, happened to see their stock prices surge. Yes, we know that correlation does not always imply causation, but a surge is a surge.
According to reports from the CDC, seven deaths have been attributed to vaping. Seven deaths. And the direct attribution to vaping is still unclear. Meanwhile, 1,500 people die every single day in America from cigarette smoking related illness and this is just fine and dandy.
According to Baker, the ban is only temporary and will end on Jan 25, 2020. However, this is highly unlikely as government in general tends to miss deadlines and overturning bans is a near-impossible feat. Rest assured, however, that the government is looking out for "the children."
"We have had teens with cough, mucus production, difficulty breathing, shortness of breath, low oxygen levels, needing oxygen, breathing tubes and ventilators, not responding to antimicrobial therapies, undergoing multiple tests to uncover the cause and sustaining at minimum temporary but possibly permanent lung damage," pulmonologist Dr. Alicia Casey said. "We cannot stand aside and allow our children to become the next generation of nicotine addicts."
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If you read the statement above, you would think that hundreds if not thousands of children are filling hospitals up across the state. However, the entire state of Massachusetts has only recorded three confirmed cases of the alleged vaping illness.
In the entire country of 327 million, there have been 530 cases of this vaping illness as of September 19, according to the CDC.
Childhood smoking is certainly no laughing matter, but the idea that banning anything will stop a teenager from getting their hands on it certainly is. Heroin, fentanyl, and synthetic opioids are already banned, yet hundreds of high school children die from overdose every single year. Despite the heavy handed police state cracking down on opioids, teen overdose deaths have been increasing.
Plain and simple, bans do not work.
Naturally, rational minded individuals are calling this decision out for the sheer lunacy that it is.
"Removing e-cigarettes from the market will create a thriving black market of counterfeit and compatible products, made with unknown ingredients under unknown manufacturing standards, drive former adult smokers who successfully use vapor products back to cigarettes and deny the opportunity for current adult smokers to have alternatives," a JUUL spokesperson said in a statement.
While Juul certainly has a reason to speak out against the ban, even members of the Massachusetts government can see the writing on the wall.
"Purposely pushing people into the illicit market — precisely where the dangerous products are — goes against every principle of public health and harm reduction," Shaleen Title, a member of the state's Cannabis Control Commission said on Twitter. "It is dangerous, short-sighted, and undermines the benefits of legal regulation."
Aside from the clearly illogical and dangerous black market creation aspect of the ban, the medical implications are also equally as dangerous. Despite the media and the government claiming this illness is related to all vaping products, they have yet to find the actual link. Indeed, the media hype about vaping deaths being directly related to legal nicotine products is entirely false as investigators do not know what is causing it.
As the The New York Timesnotes, "some dangerous chemical or combination of chemicals has been introduced into the pipeline of vaping products." Investigators "believe that when people vape this noxious cocktail, it sets off a dangerous, even lethal, reaction inside the lungs." They "have said repeatedly that they do not yet know which substance or device may be causing this reaction, and that is the subject of their urgent investigation."
Now for the tragic irony. According to a study published earlier this month, in The New England Journal of Medicine, the overwhelming majority of patients being treated for the respiratory illness had used black market cannabis products. Only 17 percent of the patients claimed to have used nicotine only. And, as the study's authors noted, "information on product use is based on reports by the patients, and patients may be reluctant to report illicit drug use."
So, what we are apparently seeing here is a tyrannical government reaction to a government-created problem of black markets which is going to create more black markets and undoubtedly create more problems. And this, ladies and gentlemen, is the land of the free in the 21st century.