While often justified to protect teen health, regulators have begun treating vaping products as equally, if not more harmful, as smoking traditional tobacco products. This push means that more teen and adult nicotine users will use cigarettes, which are far more dangerous

More effort is needed to prevent teen nicotine use. Still, in doing so, we should make sure not to encourage teens and adults to use products that could cut an additional 10 years off their lives.

Vaping is not harmless. Not using any tobacco product is always the healthier choice. However, the risks are not the same between nicotine delivery methods, and regulators should consider this when setting rules for each. 

The United Kingdom Royal College of Physicians has found vaping to be 95 percent safer than smoking. Another study in 2018 calculated that if all American smokers switched to vaping over 10 years, as many as 86.7 million years of life would be gained for the whole U.S. population. The current trend of smokers switching to vaping has prevented years of life from being lost, including for current high school students.

More can be done to prevent youth use of nicotine. But when choosing how to do so, we should make sure not to push those who still choose to smoke nicotine products to the most harmful nicotine delivery method. For example, limits on flavored e-cigarette sales are intended to curtail teen use. However, the National Youth Tobacco Survey shows that for high school seniors, flavors are low on the reasons they start vaping. To the degree that teens care about the flavors, there is also evidence that flavor bans push youth that already vape to smoke instead. The result is more years of life lost due to the drastic difference in health effects, even if only a tiny portion switched to cigarettes.

Read the full Inside Sources article here.

Justin Leventhal is a senior policy analyst for the American Consumer Institute, a nonprofit education and research organization. For more information about the Institute, visit www.TheAmericanConsumer.Org or follow us on Twitter @ConsumerPal.