With the safety of electronic cigarettes in question and comparisons being made to traditional tobacco products, it’s no surprise that politicians have entered into the fray. Sadly, the cliché of ‘just following the money’ leads directly to the offices of many elected officials – and big tobacco and pharmaceutical companies. Politicians have made it their job to protect citizens from real (and imagined) risks and then use taxes and fines to line government coffers, while big tobacco and drug companies happily support these crusades, with the ultimate goal of driving their latest competition, E-CIGARETTES, into the shadows.
E-Cig Bans Already in Place
Not surprisingly, the first areas to jump on the regulation bandwagon have been in places where politicians are quick to decide (and overrule) the will of the people. Chicago, New York and Los Angeles are leading the way in enacting e-cigarette bans in the name of the ‘common’ good. Their stated intent is to protect people from ‘second-hand-smoke’, which demonstrates their ignorance on the subject. Electronic cigarettes DO NOT produce smoke and virtually all of the studies on e-cigs thus far have found them to be significantly less harmful than traditional cigarettes, with extremely low levels of toxins and almost untraceable amounts of particulate matter released into the air.
A 2012 CleanStream-Air Study put it this way:
…we can conclude by saying that it would be more unhealthy to breath air in a big city than staying in the same room with someone who is vaping.
Smoking is NOT Vaping
More than fifty years of research confirms the dangers of smoking. The most recent report by the Surgeon General included a growing list of diseases and debilitating illnesses attributed to cigarettes.
There’s little debate on the negative consequences to both individuals and society from smoking, and although the efforts to curb the number of cigarette smokers is admirable, when it comes to e-cigarettes – IT’S FOOLISH TO LUMP THEM TOGETHER. The vapor of an e-cigarette is significantly less harmful than the chemical-laden smoke from a cigarette. We may not fully understand the long-term impacts yet, but the early research suggests that electronic cigarettes are much safer for users than tobacco, and there’s virtually no second-hand risk to bystanders.
What is most troubling about the trend to regulate electronic cigarettes and ban them in public places, is that by doing so, these municipalities are providing less incentive for millions of smokers who want to quit. E-cigs expose users to significantly less health risks, and unlike drugs or nicotine replacement therapies such as the patch, they provide the tactile and behavioral stimulation that increase their chances of kicking the habit. Left out of the equation are over 4,000+ chemicals, 60 of which are known to cause cancer, that threaten the lives of smokers and everyone around them.
Where is this all heading?
What does the future hold regarding the rights of e-cig users and the nearly $2 billion industry? One thing is certain, because they contain no tobacco, electronic cigarettes fall outside of the jurisdiction of most state laws regulating tobacco products. But that won’t stop the U.S. Congress, FDA and state bureaucrats from coming up with ways to regulate sales, limit advertising, tax or even ban e-cigs.
There are a few signs that reason hasn’t completely gone to the dogs. Wisconsin did its homework before tightening tobacco laws in their state and left electronic cigarettes out of the equation after reviewing the science behind vaping. New legislation was introduced in almost every state in 2013, with only nine states enacting laws that impose limited regulations in specific venues like schools and government property. Local jurisdictions have taken their own actions, with more than one hundred counties across the country restricting electronic cigarettes from all smoke-free environments, but this could be quickly overturned (or reaccessed) after sweeping state or FDA rules.
Some regulation is not unreasonable…
With 480,000 deaths annually and over $193 billion in healthcare costs associated with smoking each year, it’s a travesty to see electronic cigarettes being smeared by politicians who are misinformed (or persuaded) by anti-smoking groups that are funded by big tobacco and pharmaceutical companies. The public will garner much greater benefits if politicians encourage electronic cigarette use, rather than discourage it. Defining reasonable statues that keep users safe, without limiting access or their ability to make better choices, makes common sense. Age restrictions are an obvious first step, along with full disclosure of ingredients and oversight of the manufacturing process.
If we’re lucky, future legislation will be based on facts and not misinformation or propaganda. We’ve seen the debate shift both ways, but hopefully rational thinking will eventually prevail.