This week, the Pelican Institute joined groups around the country in signing a letter opposing efforts by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to ban flavored e-cigarette or vaping products.

Although there has been concerns over the recent health scares relating to these products, in all cases, the immediate health damage has been due to the use of black-market vaping devices.

This is a particularly salient issue in Louisiana. The cigarette smoking rate among adults in Louisiana is approximately 23 percent, around five points higher than the national average. That means there are over 800,000 adults in the state who currently smoke cigarettes at least once a month, many of whom are searching for alternatives to this product. There are roughly 25,000 adults who currently use vaping devices or e-cigarettes.

Banning flavors would not only discourage people from switching products but would also severely harm the current vaping population for whom the flavors are an important factor. Additionally, vape shops have proven to be a major boon for Louisiana small businesses and the people they employ. New Orleans is in the top 10 among cities for vape shops per capita and most, if not all, of these stores would close if the FDA completed these rules as outlined. People would lose their investments and hardworking, entrepreneurial citizens would lose even more jobs and opportunity in a state where both are already in short supply.

That’s why the Pelican Institute is proud to stand with more than 20 groups around the nation, not only for those who use this product, but for the hundreds of businesses that would close overnight if this regulatory action were to stand.

You can read the entire letter here