Vaping and the use of electronic cigarettes have come under fire again recently as Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi has reintroduced his ‘END ENDS’ act in an attempt to reduce the numbers of youths partaking in the use of electronic cigarettes.
The bill was originally introduced in October 2019.
In a press release, Congressman Krishnamoorthi stated:
“The majority of e-cigarette users are youth and young adults, who have both been targeted by vaping companies and are most vulnerable to the potential developmental issues associated with nicotine addiction.”
The reintroduction of this restriction has caused huge debate and may cause more harm than good.
What Is Being Proposed?
The END ENDS act is an acronym for ‘Ending Nicotine Dependence From Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems’. Whereas it is a clever use of an acronym, the net result may not be as beneficial as the congressman envisages.
The aims of the act are to:
- Ensure that e liquids contain no greater than 20 milligrams of nicotine per milliliter
- Permit the FDA to reduce levels of nicotine in eliquids even further to a non-addictive level.
- Discourage youth from using e-cigarettes and make them less appealing to use.
What is the Reason for the Limit?
Congressman Krishnamoorthi has become something of a figurehead in leading the charge against any nicotine-related products. His bill comes as a continued response to the youth vaping ‘epidemic’, a term that gained traction in 2019 following several isolated incidents involving ‘vape pens’. (It should be noted that these incidents were related to vapers inhaling unregulated and cheaply produced THC oils, not commercially available e-juices).
At present, there seems to be a wave of anti-vaping vitriol, which can often border on hysteria.
A statement issued in 2019 by the co-founders of ‘Parents Against Vaping E-Cigarettes Stated:
“Teens who were once straight-A students are failing out of school; star athletes no longer have the strength to make it through practice; even-keeled kids are suddenly exhibiting bouts of extreme anger.”
For those who vape, this statement may seem just a little dramatic.
Vaping has come under fire repeatedly over the last few years. Alongside this proposal, other restrictions such as a limit or outright ban on flavored nicotine products and the ability to order vape products via mail have also been proposed and, in some cases, enacted.
The above threatens many businesses and livelihoods in a product that could be considered significantly less dangerous than smoking tobacco.
Do any other countries limit nicotine concentrations?
The United States may be taking its cue from other countries that have successfully imposed limitations on nicotine products.
In the European Union, the Tobacco Products Directive (or ‘TPD’) placed several limits on vaping liquids and products. These included: –
- Limiting refillable tanks to no greater than 2 milliliters
- Limiting the strength of E-liquids to no greater than 20 milligrams
- Limiting the sale of ejuice containing nicotine to no greater than 10ml
Although the EU is allegedly one block, there are huge variances between each country.
In the Nordic states, for example, the sale of cartridges containing nicotine is illegal.
You can read more about the restrictions and various requirements in Europe here.
As a member of the EU, the UK adopted the TPD measures willingly. Vape shops have come up with a few (entirely legal) ‘workarounds’ to negate the effects of this directive.
Rebuildable tanks often come with a ‘glass tube’, not fitted to the device. This can often increase the tanks holding capacity.
Large bottles of flavor concentrate are sold, with the ability to purchase nicotine ‘shots’ to bring them up to the required strength.
It is worth noting that although the UK is no longer part of the ‘European bloc’, it has chosen to retain rules adopted as a part of its EU membership.
As in the US, opinion is divided in the UK as to the safety of vaping, with scientific tests still ongoing to reach a conclusion
Is There any Merit to The Proposals?
There is divided opinion, even among the vaping community, about whether the act is a good or a bad thing.
Opposition to the act focuses on the fact that by reducing the strength of smoking cessation devices, people would be more likely to return to smoking cigarettes as the only alternative.
Conversely, some vapers support the scheme, stating that vaping should be used to taper down nicotine use. With the introduction of higher strength nicotine salts and very high levels of nicotine found in some ejuices (as high as 60mg), some say that vapers are using these high strength ejuices to feed an ever-growing addiction.
While the proposal doesn’t ban the outright sale of nicotine products, it is a questionable limit and could be the thin end of the wedge for future proposals.
Reasons Why the Proposed Limits are a Bad Idea…
While some of the reasons might be admirable, the proposed actions may be counterproductive for several reasons…
It will encourage ‘black’ and ‘grey’ market sales.
At present, and depending on your state, vape shops have to satisfy numerous regulatory requirements to trade.
By making certain types of products illegal with legislation, the law will push the sale of these products ‘underground’ and available only from less reputable (and ultimately less safe) sources.
Half a million smoking deaths.
The present research suggests that vaping is much safer than smoking. When held against the fact that nearly half a million Americans still die from smoking-related illnesses each year, one could argue that the government’s focus and efforts would be better spent elsewhere.
For many, electronic cigarettes have been the only successful way to achieve being ‘smoke-free’. Heavy smokers who are looking to quit may not gain the required satisfaction from lower-strength nicotine.
The implications are that this will make it harder to move away from conventional tobacco products that have been proven to be extremely harmful.
The statement made by the congressman doesn’t paint an accurate picture
The act could be said to be an attempt to curry favor with the electorate. According to the FDA website, the use of tobacco products among youths fell by an astounding 1.73 million in 2020 alone. When these figures are viewed objectively, the act is attempting to fix a problem that is far less of an issue than the congressman suggests.
Millions of people have used vaping to switch from combustible tobacco products to something far less damaging. Sadly, public perception of vaping has been tarnished by the loose association with isolated and unfortunate events in the preceding two years.
Ultimately, once the hysteria is discarded, the justification for placing these limitations on devices that, regardless of nicotine concentration, is less harmful could be counterproductive if ‘public health’ is truly the main concern.