Free The People: A Flavored Tobacco Ban in Colorado Would Harm Public Health and the Rule Of Law

This article was published by Free The People.

Lawmakers are considering a bill which would prohibit flavored tobacco and nicotine products. While it is no doubt well-intentioned, passing the bill into law would be a grave mistake. A flavored tobacco ban is a very poor way to confront addiction. It would put businesses and jobs at risk, lower tax revenues, and pose a danger to communities through illicit markets.

The economic costs of a ban alone would be substantial. It would hit the more than 5,000 licensed Colorado business which sell tobacco products to adults aged 21 and older. In the last decade, those businesses sold around $4.6 billion in flavored tobacco products in entirely legitimate transactions which would be criminalized under the new legislation.

What’s more, the ban would hit everyone’s wallets, not just those who trade in tobacco. A ban on flavored products would take a huge chunk out of the annual $406.3 million of tobacco excise and sales tax revenue in Colorado. By banning the sales of flavored tobacco products including menthol cigarettes to adults, approximately $1.2 billion in revenue would be at risk over the next ten years.

Either the state finds itself with considerably less money to spend overnight or, worse, politicians decide to increase other taxes on hardworking Colorado residents to make up the shortfall. In either scenario, it is likely that programs which rely on government funding such as housing, local governments, K-12 education, and even tobacco prevention programs would lose out, since they depend specifically on revenues from the cigarette tax.

Alongside the economic impact, a short-sighted move to ban flavored tobacco products would bring additional costs for Colorado communities by stoking illicit trade. Removing these products from the legal market would create a whole new market operating outside of the law, meaning cashflow moves from licensed businesses to criminal networks, which then profit from tobacco smuggling.

Based on what has happened in the past in similar cases, there is no doubt about how this would play out—prohibiting entire sections of the consumer market always leads to a boom in the black market. That would heap additional pressure onto already stressed law enforcement organizations like the State Police, County Sheriffs, and City and Town Correctional Departments, as well as courts and correctional facilities.

A ban would also put ordinary consumers of tobacco in unnecessary danger by forcing them to resort to unlicensed, unregulated, unaccountable vendors to buy their tobacco products. They will no longer be confident that the products they consume are safe and tested.

Perhaps most damningly of all, going ahead with the ban would be undemocratic. Voters are staunchly opposed to it. The data suggests they overwhelmingly view these kinds of laws as a new form of prohibition and resent them for that reason. 77 percent of all voters say being aged 21 or older means you, not the government, get to make choices for yourself, including what legal products to buy. People want to be treated as adults.

Protecting children from tobacco and nicotine addiction is a laudable aim, but a blanket ban would bring with it too much collateral damage. Instead, Colorado should focus its attention on harm reduction solutions. Cigarette sales to under-21s are already illegal. The strategy for confronting youth tobacco use should center around enforcing the law as it stands.

There is plenty more that can be done to help without fueling other issues, too. For instance, investment in education and cessation support would go much further towards safeguarding public health than a ban. Marketing restrictions and licensing rules, for instance, should be tightened to bring regulation of smokeless e-vapor products in line with those for cigarettes and traditional tobacco products.

The proposed ban, then, fails on all fronts. It would be bad for criminal justice, bad for public health, and voters do not want it. There are ample unexplored avenues to help address the underage use of tobacco without prohibiting adult choices. We are all better off exploring those long before considering ineffective and harmful blanket bans.

GB News (Weekend Breakfast): Boris Johnson won’t rule out future lockdowns

I joined Stephen Dixon and Anne Diamond on the weekend edition of The Great British Breakfast in the GB News studio to react to an exclusive interview in which Boris Johnson refused to rule out future Covid lockdowns, and to discuss the controversy around Rishi Sunak’s wife’s non-dom tax status.

Times & Democrat (South Carolina): Another shot in war on vaping

This article was published by the Times and Democrat, a newspaper based in Orangeburg, South Carolina.

This was a republication of my earlier article for Inside Sources.

Vaping increases your risk of diabetes.

That is the contention of a new study by a team of scientists at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Maryland. They analyzed data from 600,000 Americans and they say their findings, published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, show a clear link between e-cigarette use and high blood sugar.

Should vapers be worried? Absolutely not.

This study is just the latest in a long line of alarmist reports that seem intent on convincing us that, one way or another, vaping is much more dangerous than we first thought. The issue of vaping has become so intensely politicized that the so-called science swirling around it is nothing more than a pool of harmful disinformation.

The sheer volume of ailments supposedly caused by vaping is staggering. In just the last few months, separate studies from reputable research institutions have claimed to discover some as-yet-unknown link between e-cigarettes and cancerstressgum diseasedry eye and even erectile dysfunction. The methodology behind these studies has been shown up for its fundamental flaws time and time again, but the world of public health science continues to churn them out.

What next? Will we soon be told that vaping is single-handedly responsible for obesity and Alzheimer’s too? Don’t bet against it. The immensely powerful anti-vaping lobby will stop at nothing to villainize electronic cigarettes, even if that means citing them as the cause of every public health issue they can shake a stick at.

We don’t have to search very hard to understand why. Like so many that went before it, the new Johns Hopkins study alleging a connection between vaping and diabetes bears the name of Michael Bloomberg. Vaping alarmism is unscientific and transparently political, and Bloomberg is the man behind a great deal of it.

In 2019, Bloomberg Philanthropies launched a new program designed to combat what it called “the youth e-cigarette epidemic,” backed up by a whopping $160 million of funding. Since then, Bloomberg has effectively positioned himself at the epicenter of the anti-vaping lobby. His fellow travelers on this venture include the World Health Organization, whose Tobacco Free Initiative project boasts Bloomberg Philanthropies as a partner.

Ironically, that project spends most of its time and resources bashing e-cigarettes and issuing diktats to governments around the world to crack down on vaping, despite them being tobacco-free. And that is precisely the problem with alarmism and misinformation around vaping: it is based on politics rather than science.

The conflation of vaping and smoking by Bloomberg, the WHO and countless other organizations is actively dangerous. The science on this is crystal clear that vaping is much healthier than smoking. It is around 200 times less likely to give you cancer. (And no, it does not cause erectile dysfunction.)

Crucially, vaping is not just healthier than smoking — it is also the silver bullet that helps people escape the harms of tobacco. Electronic cigarettes are by far the most effective tool we have ever discovered for helping people quit smoking traditional cigarettes. When smokers use vaping to quit, they are successful approximately three-fourths of the time. That’s a much higher success rate than using nicotine patches, going cold turkey, or indeed any other method of quitting.

Across the world, people are quitting smoking en masse. They are spontaneously making the choice to adopt a healthier lifestyle. But quitting smoking is not easy. It is an addiction, after all. If we believe in freedom of choice and agree that people who want to quit smoking should be able to do so, the best course of action is to make freely available all the information and resources smokers will need to move on from cigarettes. Vaping is an indispensable part of that.

But thanks in large part to Bloomberg and the World Health Organization, that’s the opposite of what is happening. Vaping is shrouded in misinformation and more and more governments and regulatory agencies around the world are bringing the hammer down on vaping. It is doing immeasurable damage to public health and our most basic liberties.

talkRADIO (my weekly segment): Why are politicians still stoking Covid fear?

I joined Kevin O’Sullivan on talkRADIO for my weekly segment.

AIER: The Politicization of Vaping Studies

This article was published by the American Institute for Economic Research (AIER).

This was a republication of my earlier article for Inside Sources.

Vaping increases your risk of diabetes.

That is the contention of a new study by a team of scientists at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Maryland. They analyzed data from 600,000 Americans and they say their findings, published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, show a clear link between e-cigarette use and high blood sugar.

Should vapers be worried? Absolutely not.

This study is just the latest in a long line of alarmist reports that seem intent on convincing us that, one way or another, vaping is much more dangerous than we first thought. The issue of vaping has become so intensely politicized that the so-called science swirling around it is nothing more than a pool of harmful disinformation.

The sheer volume of ailments supposedly caused by vaping is staggering. In just the last few months, separate studies from reputable research institutions have claimed to discover some as-yet-unknown link between e-cigarettes and cancerstressgum diseasedry eye and even erectile dysfunction. The methodology behind these studies has been shown up for its fundamental flaws time and time again, but the world of public health science continues to churn them out.

What next? Will we soon be told that vaping is single-handedly responsible for obesity and Alzheimer’s too? Don’t bet against it. The immensely powerful anti-vaping lobby will stop at nothing to villainize electronic cigarettes, even if that means citing them as the cause of every public health issue they can shake a stick at.

We don’t have to search very hard to understand why. Like so many that went before it, the new Johns Hopkins study alleging a connection between vaping and diabetes bears the name of Michael Bloomberg. Vaping alarmism is unscientific and transparently political, and Bloomberg is the man behind a great deal of it.

In 2019, Bloomberg Philanthropies launched a new program designed to combat what it called “the youth e-cigarette epidemic,” backed up by a whopping $160 million of funding. Since then, Bloomberg has effectively positioned himself at the epicenter of the anti-vaping lobby. His fellow travelers on this venture include the World Health Organization, whose Tobacco Free Initiative project boasts Bloomberg Philanthropies as a partner.

Ironically, that project spends most of its time and resources bashing e-cigarettes and issuing diktats to governments around the world to crack down on vaping, despite them being tobacco-free. And that is precisely the problem with alarmism and misinformation around vaping: it is based on politics rather than science.

The conflation of vaping and smoking by Bloomberg, the WHO and countless other organizations is actively dangerous. The science on this is crystal clear that vaping is much healthier than smoking. It is around 200 times less likely to give you cancer. (And no, it does not cause erectile dysfunction.)

Crucially, vaping is not just healthier than smoking — it is also the silver bullet that helps people escape the harms of tobacco. Electronic cigarettes are by far the most effective tool we have ever discovered for helping people quit smoking traditional cigarettes. When smokers use vaping to quit, they are successful approximately three-fourths of the time. That’s a much higher success rate than using nicotine patches, going cold turkey, or indeed any other method of quitting.

Across the world, people are quitting smoking en masse. They are spontaneously making the choice to adopt a healthier lifestyle. But quitting smoking is not easy. It is an addiction, after all. If we believe in freedom of choice and agree that people who want to quit smoking should be able to do so, the best course of action is to make freely available all the information and resources smokers will need to move on from cigarettes. Vaping is an indispensable part of that.

But thanks in large part to Bloomberg and the World Health Organization, that’s the opposite of what is happening. Vaping is shrouded in misinformation and more and more governments and regulatory agencies around the world are bringing the hammer down on vaping. It is doing immeasurable damage to public health and our most basic liberties.