The vaping industry and a prominent conservative activist want Gov. Ron DeSantis to veto legislation passed by the Florida Legislature in response to the teen vaping epidemic.
The Vapor Technology Association cited a study indicating the measure would eliminate more than 4,500 jobs for Floridians and $605 million in economic activity, in large part because the flavored vaping products the bill targets account for nearly 80 percent of the market.
“If Senate Bill 810 is signed into law, the independent vapor segment of the market would cease to exist in any meaningful way since the vast majority of the 803 independent small vape shops in the state would likely have to close,” the study concludes.
It was conducted by John Dunham & Associates, an economic research firm in Brooklyn, N.Y.
Senate Bill 810 raises the legal age to purchase tobacco and nicotine products from 18 to 21 to comply with federal standards as of December 2019. The bill would have the state follow U.S. Food and Drug Administration guidance on whether to allow flavors other than natural tobacco and menthol, in line with evidence they encourage minors to use tobacco.
Meanwhile, Grover Norquist, president of conservative advocacy group Americans for Tax Reform, sent his own letter encouraging DeSantis to veto the bill. Norquist said he spoke for Floridians who use flavored vaping products to quit cigarettes.
“Those very same adults who attempt to quit smoking should have a diverse selection of alternatives that may help them reduce or eliminate their use of cigarettes,” Norquist wrote.
However, the long term effects of vape products are not yet fully understood, and the American Heart Association says that “e-cigarettes should not be promoted as a safe alternative to smoking.”
Norquist warned of a political backlash, citing a study from McLaughlin & Associates in October 2019 that found that many supporters would be less likely to vote to reelect Donald Trump if he pushed strict vape flavor bans.
“According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are over 900,000 adult vapers in the Sunshine State, 740,000 of which may determine who they vote for in the next election on questions surrounding vaping above any other issue,” Norquist said.
“That survey showed that 98 percent of Florida vapers oppose the flavor ban in SB 810, with 96 percent of Republicans and 95 percent of Independent vapers saying that they are ‘less likely’ to vote for a Florida candidate if they support a flavor ban,” Norquist wrote.