Diary

Illinois Legislators Take Nanny State to a Whole New Level

(AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

Democrats in Illinois are at it again, pushing nanny state policies that infringe on personal liberty. This time the attack is a full-on assault against all vaping flavors—an outright flavor ban throughout the Land of Lincoln.

The bill, SB 2282, “Creates the Flavored Electronic Cigarette Ban Act. Prohibits the sale, offering for sale, or possession with intent to sell of any flavored electronic cigarette or related flavor product.”

Additionally, SB 2282, “Prohibits the ordering or purchasing or shipping of a flavored electronic cigarette or related flavor product to any person in this State.”

Where do we begin? First, why in the world are Illinois legislators focusing on this when there already is a federal ban on vaping flavors?

Second, are Illinois lawmakers unaware that vaping is much less harmful than smoking? And that flavored e-cigarettes play a vital role in tobacco harm reduction.

A recent study published in The Journal of the American Medical Association found that flavored e-cigarettes do not increase youth use, but do significantly impact the odds of adults quitting smoking.

By the way, in Illinois, one must be at least 21-years-old to buy vaping products. So there goes the argument that flavors are a gateway for teenagers to begin vaping.

Legislators are relentlessly using fear-based tactics to push policy, which is not only intellectually dishonest, but has a negative impact on law abiding citizens.

If legislators want to limit access to vaping products for minors, they should seek alternative methods other than outright bans. Legislators should enforce laws on the books like they do with other age-related laws. One suggestion would be to implement age verification software for all retailors, which would address the real problem, not banning a tobacco harm reduction tool many people rely on.

Not to mention that e-cigarettes are comparatively much safer than traditional cigarettes.

According to the Royal College of Physicians, Public Health England, and The American Cancer Society, vapor products are significantly safer than traditional cigarettes. Therefore, politicians should listen to science —not lobbyists.

Politicians often claim “unforeseen” consequences when their public policy produces unintended results. One area of concern that falls under public safety would be the black market this type of policy would create. Currently, thousands of residents in the state are legally consuming e-cigarettes, but if this policy were to move forward and become law, the results could harm those it is intended to help. Making flavored vaping illegal is overreaching and will make products that are legally regulated today, sold on the streets tomorrow.

If the humanitarian argument isn’t enough to nip this policy in the bud, then the economic impacts should also be considered.

According to the Vapor Technology Association, in 2018, the industry created 87,581 direct-vaping related jobs, including manufacturing, retail, and wholesale jobs, which generated more than $3.2 billion in wages alone. Not to mention, in 2016, 78 percent of e-liquid sales were flavored, and 69 percent of disposable vapor product sales were flavored and menthol products.

There is no question the past year has presented the country and world with an unprecedented crisis. The COVID-19 pandemic has devastated small businesses and left millions of people jobless.

Making a legislative move this year to put more stress on small businesses and communities already suffering is cruel and unusual. The fact that this legislation is even being considered proves how out of touch Illinois politicians are with the general public.

Christina Herrin ([email protected]) is the government relations manager at The Heartland Institute, a nonpartisan, free-market think-tank headquartered in Arlington Heights, Ill.