Smoke or Vapor? Regulation of Tobacco and Vaping — James E. Prieger

from the book Regulation and Economic Opportunity: Blueprints for Reform

Executive Summary

The emergence of vaping as an alternative to smoke tobacco spurred regulators across the country to develop rules to limit and control its use. Electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS), usually called e-cigarettes, are generally viewed as either a less risky alternative to tobacco or more skeptically viewed as a risk for a new generation of people to become addicted to tobacco products. In this chapter, economist James Prieger examines the risks and relative benefits of vaping compared to smoke tobacco. His key findings include:

  • Regulators should apply risk-proportionate regulation, which means that less harmful products, such as e-cigarettes, should be less stringently regulated.
  • Policymakers and the public health community should encourage switching from smoke tobacco to e-cigarettes because of the likely benefits to the individual user and public health at large.
  • Youth use of e-cigarettes is still dangerous and should be targeted carefully through education campaigns. Efforts to restrict youth access to e-cigarettes through bans or high tax rates should be balanced against the likely side-effects of youth and adults continuing to smoke cigarettes or turning to black market alternatives that are much riskier than vaping.
CGO scholars and fellows frequently comment on a variety of topics for the popular press. The views expressed therein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Center for Growth and Opportunity or the views of Utah State University.