New Study Reveals the Shocking Truth: Vaping Bans for Minors Backfire as Teen Smoking Rates Climb

In the past, skeptics claimed that vaping was a passing trend that would only fizzle out as time passed. However, the growing number of loyal vapers in 2015 is proof that these alternative smoking devices are here to stay. You’ve probably seen it in your own community. There are a growing number of vape shops, vape expos, cloud competitions, and thousands of eliquid flavors. It all adds up to one simple truth: vaping is changing lives by offering frustrated smokers a tobacco-free alternative that actually works. Yet many fear that the new vape-friendly culture is only going to lead to disaster for the next generation.

Numerous studies have shown that teens dabble with vaping just like they do with other forbidden activities. However, anti-smoking advocates often warn that when teens vape, they are opening themselves up to a lifetime battle with nicotine addiction and it could eventually lead to tobacco use. In an effort to stop teens from experimenting with vape devices, lawmakers around the country have started banning the sale of ecigarettes, eliquids, and other vaping products to minors. But is it working?

A brand new study accepted by the Journal of Health Economics is causing a whole new wave of concern for parents and health activists. Yale University’s Abigail Friedman looked at all the numbers and after months of study, she came to a shocking conclusion. When we ban minors from purchasing vaping devices, it only causes teen smoking rates to climb.

“Bans on e-cigarette sales to minors yield a statistically significant 0.9 point increase in the smoking rate among 12 to 17 year olds,” Friedman explained. That’s enough of an increase to undo all the progress we’ve made as a society to reduce the number of teenage smokers. By trying to protect our kids, we’ve inadvertently put them at a greater risk.

Even though the numbers prove that vaping bans are counterproductive, it’s unlikely that any city will repeal their bans. After all, who wants to be the first legislator to make it legally permissible for a kid to buy anything they want in their local vape shop? Can you imagine what it would be like to walk into your local vape shop and see an 8-year-old sitting at the counter puffing on his new mod?

Friedman suggested that there might be an alternative option that would reduce teen smoking rates and still keep vaping devices away from young children. She said lawmakers should consider lowering the legal vaping age to 16 and then the older teens that are more likely to smoke in the first place would have the option to vape rather than use tobacco products.

Another tactic would be to change how we educate kids about the risks involved with smoking and vaping. Currently, almost all anti-smoking groups teach kids that any form of smoking is equally bad, but the reality is that vaping eliminates tobacco, tar, and combustion making it a much safer alternative from a health point of view. A better choice would be to give kids the facts about how smoking and vaping is different. If our children were well educated on the health impact of tobacco, then those who did choose to use nicotine would be more likely to opt for vaping rather than smoking traditional cigarettes.

Truthfully, we can spend enormous resources teaching people about the health risks of smoking and we will still never achieve a 100 percent smoking cessation rate. We’ve been warning Americans for decades that smoking causes cancer and lung disease and yet people continue to light up. A nicotine-free society is just not realistic, so the next best thing would be for people to opt for vaping over tobacco use. Shouldn’t our kids have an opportunity to make an educated choice if they decide to use nicotine?

This study definitely opens the door for some discussions about our current tactics to prevent teens from smoking. If vaping bans are only going to cause teens to reach for cigarettes, then shouldn’t we reconsider our approach?

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Jimmy Hafrey