Letter to the Editor: Curbing personal freedom is counter-productive

Dear Editor,

As an important voice and advocate for Missourians, it is crucial for our elected federal leaders to take a strong stance on measures to protect our economy and the health of the populace. Unfortunately, ill-guided efforts to use legislation to curb personal freedom can be counter-productive to these goals.

Such is the case with attempts to limit the vaping industry and ban flavors that offer alternatives to tobacco. In September, FDA commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb announced enforcement actions to be taken to halt the rising “epidemic” of teen vaping. These measures included stricter rules for manufacturers, banning flavors, and pulling entire product lines from retailers’ shelves.

Vaping products should absolutely be kept out of the hands of minors, and the vaping industry has shown its commitment to banning underage use time and again. Unfortunately, incendiary statements like Dr. Gottlieb’s are harmful, particularly since his report was based on vague “preliminary data”. Missourians care about our youth, and when respected government officials make shocking claims it is easy to jump to faulty conclusions. The truth of the matter is vaping products provide an important avenue for adults to break their smoking addictions. Flavored products are marketed as an alternative to tobacco to entice smokers to give up combustible cigarettes. They are not marketed as a secret ploy to ensnare underage customers. Moreover, the small businessmen and women who run vape shops throughout the state provide an important economic stimulus to Missouri. Ill-guided attempts to cure a fictitious epidemic will only serve to harm the state economy.

Technology has made it possible for millions of Americans to lead healthier lives.

– EJ Fleischmann
Alderman – City of Arnold, MO