At the time the ban was proposed many industry commentators raised concerns that a vape ban of any kind would encourage a return to smoking tobacco, a method inherently more dangerous as it produces carcinogenic by-products. It would appear this has become fact.Recent research by industry experts has revealed data that may indicate teenagers are turning to smoking tobacco following the San Francisco ban on flavored e-liquids. San Francisco became the first major city to ban flavored vape products, and flavored tobacco products including menthol cigarettes, in 2018. Indeed, the city has since become the first to ban the sale of vape products entirely.
How The Flavor Ban Came to Be
The anti-vaping lobby became concerned when it appeared that flavored vape products were encouraging younger people – those in their teenage years – to take up vaping. Evidence that this is specifically true is scant, as not only teenagers enjoy flavored products, but many adult vapers also do. However, the anti lobby was strong and once the ball started rolling there was little doubt that bans would be put in place.
Recent research, however, has raised concerns as to the overall effect of the flavor ban in San Francisco and its relation to an increase in youngsters smoking. The study is by Abigail Friedman, an assistant professor of health policy at the Yale School of Public Health used publicly available data from the Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (YRBSS) between 2011 and 2019 run by the CDC. On the results of the study Friedman compared the dangers of smoking and vaping, stating:
“The bulk of current evidence indicates substantially greater harms from smoking, which is responsible for nearly one in five adult deaths annually. Even if it is well-intentioned, a law that increases youth smoking could pose a threat to public health.”
Dr Friedman’s data shows that high school students of under 18 years of age in the San Francisco areas where the ban is in place are twice as likely to smoke tobacco cigarettes as those in unrestricted regions.
Why the Ban Has Turned Teens to Smoking
Speaking about the research and results James Pony, the manager of Vape4Ever said:
“Dr Friedman’s research clearly indicates a correlation between the flavor ban in San Francisco and young people smoking tobacco. This is an alarming development for many, although we in the vape industry saw it coming. Youngsters know the dangers of smoking and can get the same satisfaction from the much safer vaping method, but with that unavailable to them they have resorted to the only option. It is a worrying situation.”
Those involved in the vaping industry feel that it is under attack from many sides, while the tobacco industry is left to ply its trade as it has been able to throughout. It is worth remembering that this relatively new market – vaping products and accessories – is a massive one that employs many thousands of people across various different roles, and brings in a lot of money to the local economy.
The Future of Vaping
Understandably there is considerable concern about the future of vaping and the many businesses and people involved. This is an industry that has actively helped move people away from smoking – which we know for certain is dangerous and can lead to illnesses and death – and now it is being plunged into uncertainty despite clear evidence that the flavor ban in San Francisco has had a negative effect on the future health of the younger generations.
It is to be hoped that a lesson is learned from this mistake, and that something can be done put things right.