The Washington D.C.-based non-profit R Street recently announced the winners and losers of their Vapescore 2016 campaign, and Virginia Beach ranked an A+ rating as the vape-friendliest city in the United States. R Street is a non-partisan “Think Tank” whose mission is to engage in public policy research and outreach to promote limited government and a free consumer market. The Vapescore report is simply a snapshot of 52 U.S. cities and how their regulatory and legal policies for e-cigs and vaping technology compare to one another.
Each city begins with a Vapescore of 95, and then numbers are either added or subtracted based on four key policy areas.
- Do the cities impose environmental restrictions for e-cigs and vaping technology in a manner that promotes public health? The city could lose as much as 25 points based on this one category. The more often that cities prohibit vaping in public spaces, the greater their total deduction of points. The maximum deduction of 25 points was reserved for cities that place a total ban on public vaping, including city parks and other outdoor arenas.
- Do the cities impose taxes on e-cigs and vaping technology, and how do they compare to conventional tobacco taxes? Cities can lose another 25 points in this category, especially if they tax e-cigs just like conventional cigarettes. However, if the tax is customized to encourage smokers to switch to vaping from cigarettes, the city does not lose as many points.
- Do the cities have additional licensing requirements for e-cigs and vaping products? This category can lose a city a maximum of six points in cases where they “impose additional licensing requirements—separate and apart from those required by the FDA.”
- Are there other factors that create some sort of disincentive for consumers to switch from smoking to vaping? Cities can lose up to ten points for taking part in misleading public-information campaigns within the last three years. Deceptive campaigns from the highest political offices in the city result in the largest deductions of points.
The first category regarding environmental issues is where multiple participating cities took the biggest hit. 13 out of the 52 received the maximum penalty of 25 points for having policies in place that prohibit vaping and e-cigs in anyplace that bans smoking. For example, Boston got the 25-point deduction for making no discernible distinction between vaping and smoking. Meanwhile, New York scored slightly better because, unlike Boston, New York allows vaping in local vape shops. Go figure.
The Vapescore 2016 Results
For the 52 cities researched in 2016, the average overall score was only 76.5, which is roughly a letter grade of C. The median score was 85, or an approximate letter grade of B. And the standard deviation of the scores was 15.3, which seemingly indicates a rather broad spectrum of scores related to city vaping ordinances and legislation overall.
And the winner is…Virginia Beach!
Virginia Beach is the only city to score above the baseline number of 95. With a total Vapescore of 97, Virginia Beach was also the only major metropolitan area to receive an A+ ranking. Across the board, this city recognizes and promotes the tremendous distinctions between smoking and vaping. A 2010 State Supreme Court Ruling legally establishing these vast differences also doesn’t hurt.
Minneapolis and 12 other cities received a failing grade of below 60 points, but Minneapolis is by far the least vape-friendliest city of them all. Conditions for vape shop owners are so bad that e-cigs and vaping technology are actually taxed at a significantly higher rate than conventional tobacco cigarettes. That’s pretty shocking, by anyone’s standards.
Others ranking near the bottom include Philadelphia, Chicago, Boston, and nearly the entire state of California. And the figures were even compiled well before the November Election and the passage of Prop 56, which will be imposing a new tax increase on e-cig and vaping technology of between 40-70 percent. To check out how your city fared in Vapescore 2016, the complete report along with the 52 rankings can be located on the R Street company website.
Article Credit: Matt Rowland