Testimony Before the New Hampshire Senate Commerce Committee on Senate Bill 62.
Chairman French, members of the committee, thank you for the opportunity to submit testimony on SB 62. My name is Guy Bentley, and I’m the director of consumer freedom at the Reason Foundation, a 501(c)3 nonprofit think tank. Reason Foundation’s nonpartisan public policy research promotes choice, competition, and a dynamic market economy as the foundation for human dignity and progress.
While the intentions behind SB 62 are to be applauded, there’s reason to believe prohibition of flavored e-cigarette products would harm public health and fail to achieve its purpose. It’s important to note that all e-cigarettes are regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and are under review by agency experts to assess their value to public health.
The FDA is reviewing product applications that contain reams of data on safety, efficacy, and potential threat to youth. If the FDA finds that any product is on net harmful to public health, it will be removed from the market. But if the product is deemed to be net beneficial, it will be authorized for sale as “appropriate for the protection of public health.” Banning these products prior to the FDA concluding its review would limit consumer access to products the FDA may deem as a positive for public health.
In December 2019, the tobacco age was raised to 21. In January 2021, the FDA banned the sale of all fruit and sweet flavors in the pod and cartridge-based e-cigarettes until approved for purchase through the premarket tobacco application process. Fortunately, youth vaping has fallen substantially. According to the 2020 National Youth Tobacco Survey (NYTS), youth vaping fell nearly 28 percent in 2020. The survey was conducted before the closure of schools and the imposition of lockdowns in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
Furthermore, data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows flavors are not the leading reason why youth initiate vaping. According to the CDC, the primary reason youth initiate vaping is “curiosity,” followed by “friend or family member used them,” with “they are available in flavors, such as mint, candy, fruit, or chocolate” coming a very distant third. Just as the availability of flavored marijuana, or alcohol, fails to predict drug use or drinking, the same is true for e-cigarettes. E-cigarette flavors are, however, important to those adult smokers trying to transition away from cigarettes. According to another 2020 study by researchers at Yale School of Public Health, the use of e-cigarette flavors is positively associated with smoking cessation outcomes for adults but not associated with increased youth smoking.
The scientific evidence from both the United States and European Union has proved beyond any reasonable doubt that e-cigarettes are safer than combustible cigarettes and are significantly more successful in helping smokers quit than traditional nicotine replacement therapies.
The latest Cochrane Review considered the gold standard in evidence-based medicine, concluded that e-cigarettes containing nicotine could increase the number of people who quit smoking compared to nicotine replacement therapy. Prohibition of flavored e-cigarettes, which are overwhelmingly the choice of adult vapers, risks fueling illicit markets, forcing the closure of New Hampshire’s vape shops and driving vapers back to smoking. A 2017 study from the Yale School of Public Health found “a ban on flavored e-cigarettes would drive smokers to combustible cigarettes, which have been found to be the more harmful way of getting nicotine.”
Thank you for your time.