The Misguided Anti-Vaping Hysteria
The current environment of anti-vaping hysteria irresponsibly ignores science and hard facts, and in their zeal to ban everything vape related, anti-vaping activists will actually create a greater level of harm to public health.
This hysteria reflects a modern social media culture of over-reaction, a tendency to make blanket condemnations before meaningfully researching the facts, and a bandwagon effect that says, “If the Internet says so, it must be true.” To the point, there is no science anywhere to support the off-the-cuff claims of Prohibitionist activists.
There have been troubling stories of illnesses and even death, but to claim that those were the result of commercially available nicotine vaping products is irresponsible. Every single case was the result of bootleg, off-market, back-alley vaping products. The ingredients contained in those illicit vaping products are not used by commercial producers. The anti-vaping contingent’s “ban all vaping” hysteria is akin to trying to permanently ban all shellfish because somebody got a bad oyster at a restaurant and suffered from food poisoning.
When products – whether it’s vape juices, alcoholic beverages, or chocolate cakes – are made in an unregulated, uncontrolled environment, there is risk. That’s why local health departments do not allow people to operate bakeries out of their homes in unregulated and uncertified kitchens. The correct response to vaping too, should be to establish an environment of regulation and certification to ensure that, what is a harmless product if produced correctly and with the right ingredients, remains safe.
Rather than an outright ban, a more common sense approach would be to enact regulation and inspection of production facilities, crack down on black market vaping juice production, sales and use (as is done with any other product), and implement and enforce a set of quality standards throughout the industry. Doing so would give those who enjoy the proven benefits of vaping to continue doing so, continue positioning vaping as an alternative to the infinitely more dangerous and unhealthy perils of smoking conventional tobacco cigarettes, and ensure that providers are creating and selling safe products. These common-sense measures would eliminate the incidence of serious respiratory illnesses that we have seen when under-the-radar manufacturers, or do-it-yourselfers, try to bypass the quality standards to which legitimate vaping companies adhere.
We as a society seem to be missing the point in the vaping hysteria. Vaping, as has been reinforced by significant amounts of research, is a net benefit to public health. The real danger is traditional cigarettes, which contain carcinogens and carbon monoxide – which vaping does not. Smoking accounts for 30 percent of all cancer deaths.
The illnesses and deaths reported in the news are indeed a tragedy. But what is not being discussed is that these were not the result of mainstream vaping products, but mostly black market vaping liquids which contained Vitamin E acetate as a thickening agent – which is not commonly used by commercial providers. This is no casual claim, the CDC has identified vitamin E acetate as the cause of the vaping-related illnesses and deaths. Let’s get right to the point: It’s not vaping that’s to blame, it’s the black marketeers and do-it-yourselfers who are using harmful ingredients that have no business being used.
Let’s look at just a few of the myths that are often brought up by the fear-mongers. First of all, the call for Prohibition often revolves around issues of underage vaping. As with underage smoking and underage drinking, underage vaping is a problem that should be addressed, and it is. There are already laws in place which are enforced vigorously, and the industry itself has gone a long way in terms of compliance that goes above what the law requires. The FDA, and the industry itself, has already addressed this issue with strict age verification measures, and vendors like Vapor Authority have taken the lead in going above and beyond what the law requires to ensure that minors are not skirting the law. Again, sometimes minors are able to find their way to a bottle of whiskey or a pack of cigarettes, but yet we are not calling for a ban on those products. The call for Prohibition is inconsistent.
Also the so-called “flavor ban” makes little sense. Vaping is often used as a nicotine replacement therapy for those who wish to quit smoking, and this has been widely acknowledged as more effective than other replacement therapies. For those using vaping in this way, flavors are a big draw. The Prohibitionists are incorrect in their contention that flavored vape liquids are “just for kids.” Do adults not enjoy flavors too? Once you turn 21, do you still put sugar in your coffee? Do you enjoy donuts with sprinkles? Do you, since you have reached the age of adulthood, still enjoy the occasional Snickers bar? Of course you do.
It is always wise to be cautious and prudent, but in the vaping debate, it pays to get all of the facts before jumping on the Prohibition bandwagon. Let’s be concerned about street vapes being sold in an unregulated environment, but at the same time let’s acknowledge what the American Cancer Society has already said, that e-cigarettes are less harmful than regular cigarettes. Regulation, compliance and safety? Yes, absolutely. Prohibition? Never.
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