Regarding “Texas should take lead combating e-cigarettes,” (A11, Jan. 28): This op-ed offers readers little more than unsubstantiated, alarmist and outright false claims about e-cigarettes. The author claims it is “incorrect” that e-cigarettes represent a “healthier alternative to cigarettes.” This is wrong. A large academic literature shows e-cigarettes and vaping products are safer than combustible cigarettes.

She describes the spate of vaping-related illnesses as evidence of the dangers of vaping, and acknowledges the culprit is vitamin E acetate, but does not admit that this ingredient comes from unregulated, black market sources. The CDC admitted as much. Fortunately, the author does not call for tighter restrictions or a ban on e-cigarettes, as many individuals mischaracterizing the relative safety of these products tend to do. Still, fearmongering leads to bad public policy. Such policies, as have been recently enacted in states like Massachusetts and New Jersey, would merely push legal sales underground and introduce adults and teens alike to riskier, illicit products like the ones mentioned in the aforementioned opinion piece.

To reduce black market sales, law enforcement officials would have to divert their time from pressing public safety threats to police these transactions. The economics of criminal enforcement dictates that prices rise with enforcement, which in turn leads to violence. If the products in question were as dangerous as the author suggests, strict regulation and aggressive enforcement may be worth the investment. But we know this is not true. Texans should remain clear-eyed about the facts before enacting more criminal laws.

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