Vape News In Brief: May 22nd, 2019 Edition
Welcome to Breazy Briefs, where we take a look around the globe, searching for news, science, and the occasional tasty pop culture tidbit related to vaping and the life of vapers. Today, let's talk about…
…Colorado, which is looking to impose a 62 percent tax on the wholesale price of vapor products. This is significantly higher than the 40 percent Pennsylvania imposed (and later overturned) a couple years ago, though even that measure was enough to cripple the local vapor industry. Because it's coupled with a less-significant tax hike on tobacco products (22 percent), vapor advocates will have a hard time arguing to the public against this one. The measure cleared the state legislature and can no be put before voters.
A Florida woman is encouraging her yoga students to vape essential oils. We're not even going to include the link to this one, as inhaling vaporized oil is decidedly a bad idea. Don't do this.
Reynolds American, parent company of Camel and Newport cigarettes along with the Vuse line of cigalikes, is attempting to blame Juul for the entirety of the ongoing underaged vaping "epidemic." Reynolds says that just because Juul is accused of irresponsibly marketing products to youth early in the company's history, it's no reason to stop its Big Tobacco brethren from continuing to market flavored liquid pods in convenience stores and gas stations. Could this be the beginning of a war between tobacco giants that ultimately shapes the future of vaping?
Juul, meanwhile, appears to be too busy being successful to fire potshots at Reynolds. The company, having trouble housing its growing workforce, is in talks to buy a 29-story office tower in San Francisco. The city, meanwhile, is trying to pass legislation that would kick the multi-billion dollar company out of its hometown.
Here's some insight into the alarming rise in underaged vaping, at least in one state. Kentucky reports that in recent years violations for selling nicotine products to minors have doubled. Despite the alarming trend, state regulators are actually conducting fewer inspections of stores today than they were in 2014. This illustrates a clear failure to enforce existing laws that could curtail youth access to tobacco and vapor products, suggesting that perhaps better enforcement, rather than more onerous restrictions on adult vapers, could be helpful in combating the youth access problem.
Parents in Indiana are fighting back against a local high school's scheme to limit student access to bathrooms over a fear that students would use their toilet time to vape. We're seeing similar "bathroom bans" cropping up in high schools across the country, but this is the first we've heard of parents fighting for their students' right to defecate. No statistics are as yet available on how effective restricting toilet access is in preventing underaged vaping, but we'll posit a guess that more effective (and less intrusive) measures are generally available to school staff and administrators.
Vape shops in Quebec received a bit of relief last week, as a Montreal judge invalidated portions of a restrictive 2015 vape law. The province does have the right to regulate vaping, a court found, but certain provisions of existing law go too far by banning vape shops from demonstrating products to prospective customers or promoting their use as a means of smoking cessation. The judge did give anti-vape legislators an out, however: they have six months to rewrite the law using language sufficient to stand up to further challenges.
Good news: an outfit in Nevada is pioneering a recycling program for spent vape cartridges and batteries in Las Vegas. The impetus, rather than nicotine, is the wildly popular use of recreational cannabis vapes by tourists, but it's still good someone is trying to tackle the problem. We've been talking about the need for some kind of environmentally-responsible way to handle vaping since the rise of the closed-system pod mod, and this is a great start.
There's been a lot of talk about "Tobacco 21," the decades-long push to raise the minimum tobacco and vapor product purchasing age from 18 to 21 nationwide. Twelve states and more than 400 local governments have already done so, but with a national bill now on the table and another in the works, will it really work to cut down on underaged access? In short, yes. Research shows that 90 percent of people who will become long-term nicotine users are first exposed to the products before they're 18, and 90 percent of those products are supplied to them by someone between the age of 18 and 20. The question is whether the final legislation will focus specifically on curbing youth use of nicotine or will branch out to also restrict adult access to the flavored e-liquids most adult vapers say were instrumental in helping them quit smoking.
Juul and financial backer Altria are being sued by a Florida family that allege the companies violated federal racketeering law by "purposely exploiting adolescents and getting them hooked on the aerosol devices that deliver a more powerful hit of nicotine than cigarettes, while denying the calculated marketing moves," according to a Miami Herald-Tribune report. The suit also places blame on the FDA for failing to regulate the amount of nicotine in Juul pods, which can be nearly three times as much as the 20 mg/ml cap imposed by the European Union. Left unmentioned is Marlboro parent Altria's culpability in the matter – the tobacco giant didn't acquire an ownership stake in Juul until well after the company pulled its widely criticized youth-targeted advertising. Don't expect any resolution soon, even lawyers for the plaintiffs say they expect the case to drag out for several years.
In news that fearmongers are describing as "the new secondhand smoke," new research finds that adults with children are more likely to vape than those without. The rationale here is sound: adult smokers with children are more likely to be motivated to quit for the sake of their health and their kids, so we're not surprised by the core findings. But the worry being spread about "secondhand vapor" being a threat anywhere near the level of secondhand smoke, unfortunately, has already been widely debunked.
Bad criminals: a 25-year-old Michigan man has been sentenced to jail for biting his son on the neck as punishment for the latter stealing the former's vape. Please, keep your vape gear locked up and out of the reach of children of any age – nicotine can be dangerous, especially for children. Also, please don't ever hurt your kids, whether with your hands, your words, or your teeth.
Speaking of those EU restrictions on ultra-high nicotine e-liquids, some e-cigarette manufacturers (yes, primarily Juul) are fighting to be allowed to place more nicotine into their products. European leaders, however, are fighting back, noting the alarming youth vaping trend in the US where no such restriction on nicotine levels exist.
Remember the news last week that Rite Aid was banning e-cigs from stores while continuing to sell cigarettes? Now, Walmart is jumping into the chain store private regulation game, saying they'll voluntarily raise the nicotine purchase age to 21. The retail behemoth also says they're phasing out the sale of all flavored vapor products based on FDA findings that underaged consumers enjoy non-tobacco flavors.
Despite the bad press for Juul and a recent decision to move all of its flavored pod sales online, the cigalike brand still enjoys an overwhelmingly dominant position in the convenience store vapor game. Things aren't so great for other Big Tobacco offerings, however. Imperial Brands, parent of both USA and Kool cigarette brands and the blu line of vapor products, is suffering from falling stock prices due to a failure of its "next generation" products like blu to make headway in the vapor market.
A new Washington state tax is set to decimate local brick-and-mortar vape shops while propping up Big Tobacco, vapor advocates are warning. A new per-milliliter tax on e-liquid, the linked story explains, would raise the price of a closed-system pack of disposable pods, as favored by major manufacturers, by about a dollar. Per-bottle wholesale prices on refill liquid for open systems and advanced mods, meanwhile, would more than double. Unrelated money quote from Kim Thompson, vape shop owner and leader of the Pink Lung Brigade, that we've got to share here: "Vaping is to smoking what solar power is to coal mining."
With all of the tough political news we've been dealing with lately, we've gotten away from the fun stuff. So, to close things out, let's hear the story of this guy, a long-haul trucker and three-pack-a-day smoker who was so successful in helping his trucker buddies quit smoking that he parlayed that into a vape empire that now comprises six brick-and-mortar vape shops across Idaho. Good on ya, man.
That's all the news that's fit to vape for now. But we'll be back. We're always back…