Minnesota May Be The Next State To Reduce Vaping Access With An Age Hike

Steve Birr | Vice Reporter

Minnesota may become the next state to raise the legal purchasing age for tobacco products, something vaping advocates argue will reduce access to technologies proven to be safer than cigarettes.

Lawmakers in the state introduced Tobacco 21 legislation Friday, which they claim will protect youth and teens from the temptation of cigarettes and a lifetime of addiction. Republican state Rep. Dario Anselmo, the chief sponsor of the legislation, says stopping smoking before the age of 21 is key to reducing long-term smoking rates. Despite focusing on tobacco products, the ban will also apply to nicotine-based vapor products, reported Vaping Post.

Treating the devices like traditional tobacco under the law falsely suggests to smokers that vaping carries the same risks as combustible cigarettes, making them less likely to transition to harm reduction technologies. An avalanche of peer-reviewed research shows the products significantly reduce negative health impacts from smoking by as much as 95 percent, because the majority of disease causing chemicals are only released by burning tobacco.

Scientists at the University of Catania in Italy recently conducted a three-year study investigating the effects of regular vaping on the body of the user, finding “no evidence of health concerns associated with long-term use of e-cigarettes” on blood pressure, heart rate, body weight, lung function, respiratory symptoms, exhaled breath nitric oxide and exhaled carbon monoxide.

Public health experts agree efforts to reduce tobacco use are admirable; however, they argue those efforts are bolstered, not undermined, by vapor products.

Legislators in Alaska are also inching closer to a purchasing age hike on tobacco products and e-cigarettes. The bill will extend the restrictions to all vapor products regardless of whether or not they contain nicotine.

Health officials are largely ignoring the historic declines being seen in teen smoking rates amid the hysteria surrounding teen vaping. The U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse and the University of Michigan’s annual Monitoring the Future Survey, released Dec. 14, shows reported cigarette use among 12th graders fell to 4.2 percent this year — down from 24.6 percent in 1997 — even as the number of youth experimenting with vaping devices increased.

Despite the positive data, localities across the country continue to try to restrict the products, relying on dated statistics or predetermined narratives about their alleged dangers. Researchers focused on harm reduction say efforts to misrepresent the health impacts of vaping risks undoing the progress made on improving public health and reducing smoking rates.

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Steve Birr

Vice Reporter

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