Gaetano Putignano: Vaping products help adult smokers quit

Editor’s note: This commentary is by Gaetano Putignano, who owns 802 E-Cig Supply Inc. based in Bellows Falls.

“If you could take every adult smoker and fully switch them to e-cigarettes, that would have a substantial public health impact.”

That statement was not made by a retailer or manufacturer of vaping products, also known as e-cigarettes. Nor was the statement made by a company executive with money to be made through the sales of vaping products.

To the contrary, those are the words of FDA Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb. While he and the FDA and have not minced words about the unacceptability of increasing youth experimentation with these products, he has nonetheless advocated for keeping these products available on the U.S. market so adults can access them without massive barriers to use.

Unfortunately, in public policy, it can be difficult for elected officials to accept that some issues – particularly public health issues – are not merely black or white. Case in point, some members of the Vermont Legislature and the formerly anti-tax-hike Gov. Phil Scott are pushing for a massive new tax of 92 percent of wholesale on these products, even including standalone devices that aren’t sold with nicotine in them.

As the owner of two Vermont brick and mortar businesses exclusively dedicated to the sale of vaping products, I fully recognize that the use of these products among youth is a public health issue that should be addressed. That is why our stores are so vigilant about policing the age of our customers. We have never been cited for selling to a minor, despite several attempts from young people to purchase as part of sting operations.

Since opening my stores several years ago, my employees and I have helped over a thousand Vermont adults quit or greatly reduce their cigarette smoking. Some customers have even stepped down their nicotine levels to the point where they no longer use nicotine or vape at all. Our customers, particularly those who put down their cigarettes for good thanks to our guidance, are loyal and very thankful for the services we have provided.



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