On Oct. 16, Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody announced that Florida would begin investigating 22 different companies under suspicion of advertising e-cigarette products to minors.
This investigation came out more than a month after the Trump administration announced its plan to ban flavored e-cigarettes.
If Florida is serious about keeping minors from using e-cigarette products, it would be wise to invest in education rather than punish companies that provide a less harmful alternative to adults who smoke.
With governments on the state and federal level taking a stance against these e-cigarette companies, it is important to acknowledge the benefit these kinds of products have for adults striving to quit smoking. For many people using e-cigarettes, they are a way to transition from smoking traditional cigarettes which have more adverse health risks.
A 2019 study from the New England Journal of Medicine was comprised of 900 individuals attempting to quit smoking. Half of the participants were assigned e-cigarettes as a way to transition from smoking and half were assigned a nicotine replacement product, such as nicotine gum.
The study found that 18 percent of individuals assigned to vaping as a means of quitting were successful compared to a quitting rate of 10 percent for individuals who used nicotine replacement therapy as a way of quitting.
There are ways to deal with the problem without demonizing the industry. Education about the impact of these products has proven to be an effective tool.
Rather than acting in a punitive manner, Florida would be wise to learn from the successes of previous ways in which they have decreased teenage smoking. In November 2006, Floridians voted on a constitutional amendment to create the organization Tobacco Free Florida, which educates both adults and minors on the dangers of smoking cigarettes.
Over the course of 10 years after Tobacco Free Florida was created, the youth smoking rate went from 10.6 percent to 3 percent.
These results show that education is an effective tool in decreasing youth smoking rates. This same strategy should continue to be applied to the issue of young people using e-cigarette products.
Florida should move its focus to educate young people about the dangers of depending on nicotine and should be careful not to punish an industry that assists adults who wish to quit smoking.