Letter to the Mayor of Boulder, CO on Harm Reduction
Dear Mayor Jones,
I am writing in regard to Boulder’s proposed ordinance, which would ban the sale of flavored-tobacco products in Boulder, including most vaping products. I am the Western director for the R Street Institute, which is a Washington, D.C.-based think tank that does work in the area of tobacco harm reduction.
We have no problem with raising the legal age for the sale of tobacco to 21, but virtually all e-cigarettes use flavored liquids. Banning the sale of such liquids will create unnecessary difficulties for smokers to switch to these less-harmful products. We recognize the negative effects of smoking and support policies that move smokers toward less harmful alternatives.
In 2016, the Royal College of Physicians, one of the oldest, most venerable professional medical bodies in the world, published an authoritative report demonstrating the long-term health hazard posed by e-cigarettes is less than 5 percent of the harm from smoking. E-cigarettes are not totally safe, of course, and measures need to be taken to keep them out of the hands of underage people. But they need to be available in Boulder to help smokers quit a more-dangerous habit.
If, for instance, cigarette smokers can no longer find vaping liquids throughout the city, they will be more likely to keep smoking cigarettes, which will still be available at their local convenience store. FDA-approved cessation aids such as nicotine patches and gum can help, too, but only a small percentage of smokers prefer to use them, whereas vaping is a far more popular alternative.
Here are links to some of R Street’s relevant studies:
Thank you for your time and consideration.
Western Region Director
R Street Institute