EDITORIAL: Vaping restriction was legislated too hastily
Joining the national hysteria regarding vaping and its potential ailments is Gov. Phil Murphy (D-N.J.) and his colleagues embodying the state legislator.
“ … Gov. Phil Murphy (D-N.J.) signed a ban that prevents the sale of flavored vaping products in New Jersey … ” according to The Daily Targum.
While such a move is not unexpected — especially considering the recent advent of deaths from bootleg vaping products — the drastic nature of the law, especially when applied to a medically relative unknown such as e-cigarettes, raises questions about how legislators, and law in general, should operate.
Even though immediate parallels between cigarettes — a product undeniably abhorrent for lung and overall health — and vaping may be made (both dispatch nicotine through inhalation), the health effects are not the same.
Cigarettes contain hundreds of substances that e-cigarettes do not. Hence, legislating them similarly is an exercise of false equivalency.
That being stated, this is not to say that vaping is safe by any means. As a matter of fact, the unknowns surrounding the recently introduced nicotine mechanism pose as something to worry about.
“It’s not clear how often vaping might lead to lung trouble or who is at highest risk. For example, are lung problems more common among vapers who already have breathing problems (such as asthma) or who use marijuana? Is it more common among younger individuals? Does use of e-cigarettes cause the lung disease? Or is an added substance (such as marijuana) or another contaminant the culprit? Since the FDA’s regulation of e-cigarettes is still evolving, it’s particularly difficult to get answers,” according to Harvard Health Publishing.
Additionally, e-cigarettes contain high levels of nicotine, which has been categorically deemed as addictive. Therefore, anybody who is not currently addicted to nicotine should stay far, far away from vaping for that fact alone.
While a scientific consensus on whether nicotine itself is harmful for your health has not yet been reached, giving yourself an addiction to any substance is a poor choice for your mental state and wallet.
But legislating against a substance with unknown health effects is counterproductive and goes against the fundamental purpose of law itself.
The government was not formed to handhold the populace into making good decisions, but to utilize the power of law only when fully necessary. Any usage of political power outside of that can only be denoted as overbearing.
Instead of jumping straight into the ink of law, Murphy and the legislator should have used their power to fund more research regarding this potentially harmful substance. The government should have done its due diligence before hammering in new rules for its constituents to abide by.
The state — and the federal for that matter — and the government should step in by funding research about these products for the benefit of the general populace.
The law itself is problematic for multiple reasons.
By banning “fruity” flavors, it is amply clear that the state government’s intention was to keep these products away from minors. While that is certainly a well-intended act — under no circumstances should children be permitted to consume these potentially brain-altering drugs — the way they went about it is inefficient.
Take a teenager who is already hooked on nicotine from vaping. Now that fruity flavors are banned, do they instantly cease their nicotine consumption?
Likely not, as addiction has a powerful hold on those it grabs. The addicted consumer will near-certainly continue inhaling nicotine, whether that be from still-permitted vape flavors or, even worse, through cigarettes.
While this could, perhaps, stop non-users from ever getting lured in the first place, current underaged users will continue their addiction through other means.
If the government really cared about putting a stop to underaged vaping, it would simply become more stringent in enforcing the laws that are on the books.
The minimum age to buy tobacco products in New Jersey is 21. If the state actually took the time and effort to enforce its laws, why would further measures be necessary? What does that say about the efficiency of law enforcement in our state?
Overall, adults have the right to make their own choices and do as they please, as long as others are not harmed in the process. By partially outlawing a product that is not fully understood, the state government has undermined the public’s ability to emit personal agency.
Murphy and the state legislator should abrogate this new law until further information about vaping is established.
The Daily Targum's editorials represent the views of the majority of the 151st editorial board. Columns, cartoons and letters do not necessarily reflect the views of the Targum Publishing Company or its staff.