Measure 4 on the November ballot wrongly includes vaping restrictions and taxes in the same basket as cigarette taxes and regulations.
Smoking and vaping are fundamentally different. Smoking burns plant material, while vaping creates a cloud of fine liquid droplets with an electric current, essentially a flavored steam.
Some vaping liquid contains nicotine, derived from tobacco to the same pharmacopeia standard as nicotine patches and gum. Other liquid does not. Liquid not containing nicotine is not regulated under Measure 4, as the measure concerns itself only with “tobacco products,” and the only derivative of tobacco in any liquids is the nicotine added.
In those liquids that do have nicotine added, the carcinogens produced from smoking are inherently not present as the process by which those carcinogens are produced—combustion—is not present in vaping.
There is considerable controversy on the comparative risks of vaping versus smoking. Reputable organizations such as Public Health England and the Royal College of Physicians in the United Kingdom have concluded vaping offers a net gain in public health through smokers switching to vaping, while other professional organizations remain skeptical.
An even larger body of research is ongoing on both the benefits and risks of vaping. But regardless of whether further research and professional opinion conclude vaping to be constructive or detrimental to public health, the fact remains that vaping is not smoking.
The product and process are different and should be regulated differently.
Sales of liquid to a minor already are illegal in North Dakota, and retailers are required by law to card. Both of these are constructive and necessary regulations if a psychoactive substance such as nicotine is in the liquid.
But voters shouldn’t lump vaping under the same regulations as tobacco when the two are fundamentally different. Instead, let the Legislature or a future ballot measure with a better understanding of vaping craft meaningful regulations.
Vote no on Measure 4.