Similar to how government regulations of opioid medications helped to fuel the recent heroin and fentanyl scourges, it seems government restrictions on e-cigarettes to combat the “vaping epidemic” has inadvertently increased combustible tobacco cigarette use among youth. Such is the law of unintended consequences.
Across the nation, lawmakers seem stuck in a tragic game of whack-a-mole. The more they try to reduce youth vaping, the more they increase youth combustible cigarette smoking. For example, Lancaster County, Nebraska reported a reduction in sales of vaping products to minors “from 21.2 percent in 2017 to 5.3 percent in 2018.” During the same period, non-vaping tobacco product sales to minors increased, from 5.9 to 8.7 percent.
Moreover, a 2015 Yale study found state bans on the sale of e-cigarettes to minors created “a statistically significant 1.0 percentage point increase in recent cigarette smoking rates among 12 to 17 year olds.”