By action of the Board of Supervisors on Thursday, Rankin county has made youth vaping illegal-er. 

The Board voted to prohibit the possession and use of vaping or e-cigarette products for people under the age of 21, according to the Clarion Ledger. Three Rankin county municipalities, Pearl, Flowood, and Brandon, had all recently passed similar ordinances, though the age limit was 21 just for students, but 18 for all others. Similar bills have been introduced in the House and Senate this year. 

One of the comments made by proponents was that the sheriff’s department had confiscated more than 100 vaping products on school grounds. Yet, state law already makes the possession and use of tobacco products on school property illegal, and you have to be 21 to purchase tobacco products thanks to a recent change from the federal government. Even the previous age requirement of 18 was still older than most students. 

The choices of minors won’t change because of government actions. They are doing something that is already illegal. Rather, we are just pushing more people to the black market. And that is where vaping related illnesses generally originate. 

According to a new report from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), those with illnesses were linked to marijuana vapes – not nicotine – and, at least 85 percent of those were purchased somewhere other than commercial sources. Still, even that number may be lower than the actual statistics. 

Regardless, the CDC has now removed language from their website suggesting people refrain from all vaping products. Instead, they suggest you avoid purchasing products from “informal sources,” more commonly referred to as the black market. 

Yet, proposals to limit vaping products would do just that. 

We’ve played the prohibition game before. It doesn’t end well. During alcohol prohibition, individuals made their own liquor that was often much more dangerous than what you could legally buy prior to prohibition. Today, many people roll their own cigarettes in locales that have absurdly high taxes. Again, these are often more dangerous as you can get more nicotine by leaving out a filter. 

And when it comes to vaping, teens can turn to YouTube for do-it-yourself videos on raising nicotine levels. This won’t change as we pass more laws. 

The bans won’t provide an alternative to current cigarette smokers hoping to kick the habit, nor will they stop teens from vaping. Instead, they will only increase lawlessness.