Texas Conservative Coalition Research Institute
Testimony to the Senate Committee on Health & Human Services
December 3, 2019
Regarding the Committee’s Charge: Examine the emerging public health concerns from the rise of e-cigarette use and “vaping,” especially among minors. Determine if additional policies or laws are needed to protect the public’s health.
Still a relatively new product, E-cigarettes have been linked to mysterious lung illnesses and death, and there is concern that teenagers are using the products at an increasing rate, which feels to many like a step backwards after years of steady decline in teen tobacco use. With more than 1,400 serious illnesses linked to vaping and 33 deaths, lawmakers and officials are right to worry. However, research indicates that black market products are likely to blame for these illnesses, rather than products that exist within the legally regulated market, and outright bans fail to acknowledge the potentially positive aspects of e-cigarettes, as opposed to traditional cigarettes.
There is no question that vaping is bad for you, and there is evidence that vaping can be even more harmful to adolescents with still developing brains. The Legislature has a responsibility to make sure that these products are not marketed to children, and that everyone knows the products are not harmless. There could also be lessons learned in the U.K.’s approach to e-cigarette use, which embraces vaping as a means of traditional cigarette cessation, while discouraging use of e-cigarettes by non- smokers.
Texas has a good reputation for taking a reasonable approach to regulation and public safety. As policy makers debate proposals to regulate vaping and e-cigarettes, they should do so with a clear understanding of the underlying facts and how the products are used. Like many products legally available in the marketplace, there are dangers associated with vaping, but calls to ban the products outright are an overreaction. Lawmakers and regulators should study what is and is not working in the U.K.’s approach to regulating vaping and address this issue with a scalpel, rather than a shotgun, approach.