When the FDA banned flavored cigarettes in 2009, an action that resulted in quite a bit of press and plaudits but affected a negligible portion of the tobacco market, one wonders given the lack of any real evidence supporting that action, if it was simply to leverage more substantial actions.
Now we see the threat of a ban on menthol which since it actually affects many smokers is generating some resistance. Unlike ‘fruity” cigarettes which even most smokers did not know existed, menthol is huge. (I am sure the shadowy types invested in the black market are crossing their fingers hoping to see the ban happen.)
But even if the flavored cigarette ban seemed like a lot of ado about nothing, anything the FDA publishes is interpreted as grounds for like and extended actions (such as when their laughable e-cig assay was used to support a potential e-cig ban in the Middle East).
In the first iteration, in New York City, the ban was supersized to include all flavored tobacco products. The same is currently being considered in Washington state but Utah is where the real action is.
In Utah, the ban is being considered for not only smokeless tobacco products but also e-cigarette liquid. And addition to this, only e-cigarettes that have an on/off switch will remain legal.
Apart from our obvious concerns about smokers losing access to good and safer alternatives, these red herring child scare statements, and the nonsense that adults don’t appreciate flavor (because if you argue that flavor is targeted at children you are kind of implying that), this removal of flavor (and that e-cig switch) which are presented as “reasonable” conditions are anything but. They function as de facto prohibitions. (So far the only real complaints have been that pipe tobacco is at risk; Representative Ray suggested they buy it when they are travelling in other states but wasn’t concerned “flavored tobacco is flavored tobacco”.
Vapers and snus users are much more attuned to flavor than smokers. If you look at the user boards and blogs you have a plethora of talk about flavor and experimentation. In contrast, most smoker discussions (other than cigar and pipe) center on rights more than anything. It does not really matter whether this flavor orientation is a function of the products themselves or of how users are contextualizing them but that they appear to be intrinsic to the use. Remove the flavor and you are removing what appears to be quite important to just about everybody using them.
You know they also tried this in Wisconsin but when it was suggested that state money be used to persuade local governments to support a ban, ran up against a spoilsport Representative with with common sense, who said “the state shouldn’t be paying groups to influence local governments or public opinion”.
Now I am not one for conspiracy theories but if I were I just might tie together the facts that:
1. the board of the FDA Center for Tobacco was dominated by individuals with one foot in pharmaceutical products and the other in general anti-harm reduction and
2. Utah is specifically exempting flavored nicotine replacement products from the ban (because there is no way that kids would find candy flavored nicorette appealing) and
3. there seems to be a rising demand across the country that public funds subsidize these nicotine replacement products at the same time that
4. these safer alternatives that seem to actually help people quit smoking are being systematically attacked.
No. That just can’t be right because all those good people really care about you and me and they are working day and night to make sure we don’t make the awful mistake of quitting smoking the wrong way.
-Paul L, Bergen