Government Bureaucrats Coming for Your Vape Pen

A selection of "Nicotine Containing Products", or "NCP"s are displayed during "The E-Cigarette Summit" at the Royal Academy in central London on November 12, 2013.  The merits of e-cigarettes were thrashed out at a one-day gathering of scientists, experts, policymakers and industry figures at the Royal Society in London. The use of electronic cigarettes -- pen-sized battery-powered devices that simulate smoking by heating and vaporising a liquid solution containing nicotine -- has grown rapidly.  AFP PHOTO / LEON NEAL / AFP PHOTO / LEON NEAL        (Photo credit should read LEON NEAL/AFP via Getty Images)
A selection of “Nicotine Containing Products”, or “NCP”s are displayed during “The E-Cigarette Summit” at the Royal Academy in central London on November 12, 2013. (LEON NEAL/AFP via Getty Images)

By Brian Darling
April 16, 2024

Freedom is constantly under attack by the federal government. I don’t vape, but I do support the idea that people who want should be able to vape. At a time when our federal government should be more worried about an exploding national debt, jobs, and inflation, many seem to be more focused on regulating vaping.


There are some very important issues facing America today. Congress has engaged in a year-long debate on immigration policy, spending priorities, and whether to provide aid to Ukraine. House Republicans have had an internal battle over the leadership of the Speaker resulting in weeks and weeks of political paralysis. Congress is not going to do much this year and if incumbent members allow a bill that enrages voting vapers to be signed into law, they may pay a high price at the ballot box this fall.

Some politicians have relied on the argument that they need to defend children as a pre-text to try to ban vaping for adults. It is a tried-and-true trick of politicians to flex federal power in the name of protecting kids when they are protecting another industry that has better lobbying connections.

One big lobbying interest that is pushing this argument to make it harder to sell vaping products is the “Big Cigarette” lobby. To be clear, some tobacco companies are supportive of modern alternatives to smoking, but some are not. Facing huge declines in smoking of tobacco cigarettes some companies occupying that space are looking for alternatives and hoping that regulations slow the growth of vaping while they make the transition over to vaping and other alternative to traditional cigarette products.

I fully support the freedom of adults to smoke cigarettes if they so choose, but a problem occurs when one lobbying interest and a number of non-profits try to use the power of government to limit access. This seems to be occurring now where Big Cigarette is battling to limit access to vaping products and to limit demand while they transition.

Vaping is a safe alternative to cigarettes. It is also far more socially acceptable to vape than to blow smoke in public places. The idea that vaping should be banned to protect consumers is absurd when you realize that many vapers will go right back to tobacco products if vaping is banned. Adults should have the freedom to vape, because it is a safe alternative to smoking cigarettes. Obviously, children should not be vaping, smoking cigarettes nor drinking alcohol, yet Congress is not pushing any ideas for prohibition.

Prohibition of alcohol that resulted in two constitutional amendments, one that prohibited alcohol and one that repealed the prohibition. That act of government did protect children from harm, but it also prevented adults from engaging in recreational behavior that is socially acceptable today. Likewise, banning vaping would prevent adults from engaging in recreational vaping and the use of vaping to get off an addiction to tobacco cigarettes. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is charged with protecting the health of Americans. FDA bureaucrats approving and enforcing a ban would be violating the core ethics of the agency.

Some call vaping products electric cigarettes because they are tiny devices that heat up a liquid that allows the adult consumer to inhale the gas produced by the liquid heating up. This popular product has become a threat to traditional cigarettes and the Big Cigarette industry has sprung up to get government to ban vaping.

People are getting off cigarettes thanks to vaping. An organization based in the U.K., Action on Smoking and Health (ASH), found “2.7 million (56%) are ex-smokers” while only “320,000 are never smokers.” The report indicated that “the main reasons given by ex-smokers for vaping is to help them quit (31%); to prevent relapse (22%); because they enjoy the experience (14%); and to save money (12%).” Those statistics indicate that, at least in the U.K, vaping is helping smokers quit dangerous tobacco products. The report further found that “the main reasons given by current smokers for vaping is to cut down on smoking (19%), to try to help them quit (17%) and to prevent relapse (13%).”  This data is compelling evidence that a ban on vaping would have deadly results.

Those who want to ban vaping products for adults in the name of protecting kids is an obvious overreach by government. No voter wants politicians to enter the fall elections with a heavy-handed regulation that restricts voting adults from access to a product that will prevent them from smoking tobacco cigarettes on their drive to and from voting.  Congress and the FDA need to stand down on ideas to restrict vaping products for adults or they will suffer some stark political consequences.

Brian Darling is former Counsel to Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY).

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