Article from Reason by Jacob Sullum.

In an effort to curtail underage vaping, the Food and Drug Administration reportedly plans to ban the sale of most flavored e-cigarettes in stores that admit minors. This misguided, morally dubious policy will impede the shift from smoking to vaping, thereby endangering millions of Americans who might otherwise have made that potentially lifesaving switch.

The Washington Post reports that the new rules, which may be announced next week, will ban flavored e-cigarettes from “tens of thousands of convenience stores and gas stations across the country.” The FDA will make an exception for menthol, the Post says, “because menthol is permitted in regular cigarettes as well, and the agency doesn’t want to give traditional cigarettes an advantage over e-cigarettes in the retail setting.”

Notwithstanding that concern, the FDA is applying a double standard that favors combustible cigarettes, which are far more dangerous than vaping devices like Juul and Blu. The agency is banning the vaping products that teenagers favor from most brick-and-mortar stores while letting them continue to sell the cigarettes that teenagers smoke. While smoking has reached record lows among teenagers (and adults), data from the 2017 National Youth Tobacco Survey indicate that something like 1.4 million high school and middle school students have smoked cigarettes in the last month. Yet those products will still be available in stores that admit minors.

It is reasonable to expect merchants to verify that e-cigarette buyers are at least 18 (the minimum purchase age under federal law), just as it is reasonable to expect them to do the same with cigarette buyers. The FDA reportedly plans to require that websites selling e-cigarettes use age verification technology (something that Juul, the dominant brand, already does), which is the online equivalent of carding the kid at the 7-Eleven (although the FDA says online merchants, contrary to what you might suppose, account for a small share of sales to minors).

Read the entire article at Reason.

IMAGE CREDIT: By TBEC Review [CC BY 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

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