Laws are put in place for a lot of reasons. Some laws are enacted to incentivize good choices instead of poor ones.
Examples of this are laws that tax products like cigarettes, soda and sweets and giving healthcare subsidies to people making good choices like joining a gym, having regular vaccinations and physicals, etc. This is especially apparent in the taxes on cigarettes as well as the restrictions on advertisements on television for nicotine products.
This leads to the current popular culture discussion surrounding vaing devices such as the Juul electronic cigarette. First, it is important to address that the data is relatively inconclusive and the facts are in no way straight. Various health organizations have disparate opinions about the effects of vaping, and it has not been around long enough to see the long-term effects of what happens after years, or decades even, of using the products.
These products, criticized for being marketed toward children, have brought the issue of underage tobacco consumption back into the public eye. In the last several years, vaping has become popular and underage tobacco consumption is at an all time low. Regulations and laws for buying/selling cigarettes, and the restrictions on advertising and awareness programs, had astoundingly positive effects on decreasing tobacco consumption.
The debate by legal professionals and legislators is not whether or not vaping negatively affects the health of the public, specifically people under the age of 18. This is likely and inevitably true. Rather, the issue is whether or not harsh legislation surrounding vaping is appropriate or even reasonable at this time.
I conclude that anti-vaping legislation mandating harsher regulations than other tobacco products are not appropriate nor are they reasonable. While regulations on advertisements and marketing should be consistent with tobacco products, the use and sale of e-cigarettes should not be more restrictive than similar products.
We have established the government likes to incentivize positive behavior with legislation in the form of tax breaks, subsidies, etc. They like to disincentivize negative behavior through higher taxes and stricter regulations —
essentially an inconvenience. I would argue that because the effects of vaping are so inconclusive, and because there has not yet been an extended period of time to evaluate the effects of this phenomenon, there is no use in jumping to legislation just yet.
Vaping could easily be a fad, a small problem on the blip of a timeline of other equally mundane fads, too. Kids and teens have chosen much more serious and dangerous fads that fizzled out for lack of real concrete reason.
Several years ago “challenges” were created on the internet to test people’s ability to complete random tasks. For instance, the “Cinnamon Challenge” was created to see who could swallow an entire spoonful of cinnamon in one bite, which often resulted in choking, heaving and sometimes vomiting. The “Salt and Ice Challenge” was a test to see how long you could hold a piece of ice on your hand, which was covered in salt, thus freezer burning your skin. These had immediate results of harm to kids, and had a widespread cultural effect that became popular very quickly. There are countless other idiotic and dangerous fads that went viral so quickly because of the internet, and vaping devices are no different.
But as quickly as the “Cinnamon Challenge” and “Salt and Ice Challenge” came, they also died. Vaping very well could be a similar situation.