Last week, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), under the direction of President Trump, made moves toward banning flavored E-Cigarettes after another death resulted from a vaping-related illness, which is affecting hundreds of people, particularly young adults. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar stated that the FDA would issue strict guidance in the coming weeks to clamp down on the sale of nearly all flavored vaping products.
“We may have to do something very, very strong about it,” President Trump told reporters in the Oval Office last week.
Now, personally, I hate e-cigs and other vaping products. They disgust me, and I think their creation is just another sign of the moral and mental decline of our society in which people turn to smoking capsules of nicotine for pleasure. I sympathize with the feeling that many government officials are having about curtailing the usage of flavored vapes. That being said, I believe what the FDA is doing is wrong and must be opposed.
Federal regulations over a product on sale in the market is an action that I believe is very reasonable—the government does it all the time, whether it is tobacco or other products that we know are not generally healthy items. For example, I think the FDA has every right to establish an age in which someone can purchase an item, and they can force the producing company to be transparent concerning the nature of their product. These are not the only actions they can take, but those are two easy ones that come to mind.
What the FDA cannot do is unilaterally step into the free market and yank a product out wholesale on the basis that the product in question is unhealthy. There are tons of products that are unhealthy yet remain on the market, cigarettes and alcohol being two major examples. The federal government cannot just unilaterally decide, on a motive which is not being equally applied to all merchandise that are arguably more unhealthy, to remove an item from the free market artificially. They can regulate it, but they should not be allowed to remove it. People deserve the right to choose, and if they want to use a flavored E-Cigarette, it is their right to do so.
The FDA is perfectly within its boundaries to crack down on online sales in which people under the age of 18 can purchase E-Cigs with relative ease, but government intervention of such an extreme nature into the free market is not tolerable unless in extreme cases, and this is not one of them.
If we really want to fix the problem of young people vaping, we should focus on creating stronger family units with better parenting to make sure these young children don’t get their hands on these decrepit items, not just ban the product outright. The federal government, and the executive branch in particular, should not be allowed to unilaterally decide what can and cannot be sold on the free market.