NYC Moves to Snuff Out E-Cigs: “What Are They Smoking?”

The U.S. and U.K. governments see lower-risk nicotine products as a tool to bring smoking-related diseases down to levels not seen in generations.  But in New York City, legislators want to recklessly regulate responsible vape retailers out of existence.  What are they smoking?

Jeff Stier, the director of the National Center’s Risk Analysis Division, asks this in a New York Post commentary taking issue with the New York City Council’s August 9 vote to “slash the number of vape shops allowed to operate and to ban new stores from opening.”  Ironically, the vote was seen by its supporters as a way to reduce Americans’ tobacco habit.  It will likely have the opposite effect.

Vape shops sell e-cigarettes and similar products to people looking for alternatives to cigarettes and other forms of tobacco.  As Stier pointed out in his commentary:

[B]y drastically ratcheting down the number of vape shops in the city, smokers will have fewer places to buy their favored alternative to cigarettes.  Sure, they could still buy online, but they’d be missing out on individualized guidance on which products will give them the best chance at quitting.

Vape-shop owners are typically former smokers who saved their own lives by ignoring the advice of nanny-staters and quit smoking aided by e-cigarettes.  They’ve become entrepreneurs whose businesses succeed when smokers quit.  Now, both are more likely to fail.

Noting that other tobacco alternatives and taxpayer-subsidized health counselors are not posting effective gains in promoting smoking cessation, Stier wrote that “Vape-shop staffers, with their real-world success stories and product knowledge, have the potential to be highly effective, especially for entrenched smokers who were unsuccessful with other methods.”  Better still, “vape-shop staffers don’t cost taxpayers a penny.”

New York City’s attempt to discourage vaping comes as governments are becoming more open to the practice.  In late July, the Food and Drug Administration in the United States essentially reversed a hostile policy toward e-cigarettes to support less harmful alternatives to tobacco.  In the United Kingdom, a report aimed at reducing tobacco use released by the government agency Public Health England suggested “permitting innovative technologies that minimize the risk of harm,” and “maximize the availability of safer alternatives to smoking.”  This would undoubtedly promote vaping.

The National Center for Public Policy Research is a communications and research foundation supportive of a strong national defense and dedicated to providing free market solutions to today’s public policy problems. We believe that the principles of a free market, individual liberty and personal responsibility provide the greatest hope for meeting the challenges facing America in the 21st century.