Experts believe Alabama legislators will soon become the latest state to apply existent tobacco regulations to vaping products.
Vaping regulations around the world always seem to be in some state of flux. When it was a brand new product breaking onto the scene, skepticism was not only fair but warranted. However, these are not the days where we lack peer-reviewed evidence supporting the harm reduction and smoking cessation value of vaping. Regardless, misguided regulations seem to be the increasing norm as legislators struggle with a perceived teenage vaping “epidemic.” One of the most common “solutions” to the vaping problem is simply applying existent tobacco regulations to vaping products. Despite how misguided this is, yet another state seems set to do just that. In fact, if Alabama indeed goes this route, they will become the 47th state to do so.
Critics of this logic point to the clear and obvious differences between vaping and any other “alternative tobacco products.” Not only are smoke and vapor factually different things, but all traditional e-liquid vaporizers are 100% tobacco-free. Anti-vapers shrug off these concerns and insist we must do anything and everything we can to protect the youth, even though some experts believe misguided regulations are ultimately making things worse. The bottom line is applying tobacco regulations to vaping is an oversimplification of the facts.
One Of The Last Dominoes
According to reports, Alabama will soon become the 47th state to regulate the sale of vaping products. The news comes after the state House of Representatives voted unanimously last month (101-0) to add vaping products to their existent tobacco control laws. Rep. Barbara Drummond (D-Mobile), who was one of the co-sponsors of the bill, told a story about a first grader found with a Juul. While stories like these are shocking and terrible, it’s easy to forget that even when true, the research shows the vast majority of kids and teens are staying away from vaping products.
In fact, this argument is usually what you’ll find when looking to support harsh vaping regulations. Heartbreaking tales of unfortunate circumstance and poor decision making, but which ultimately amounts to nothing more than anecdotal evidence. When you instead take a look at the independent scientific research for vaping, the story isn’t quite so dire. The lack of understanding about vaping among members of the legislature is evident once you take a look at some more quotes. Rep. Chris Pringle (R-Mobile) said “Nobody under 14 years old needs help to quit smoking. They need to be stopped from smoking.” He’s right that no one so young should be smoking, but to suggest that means vaping needs to be restricted is false. That should be evident to anyone who took the time to look into the research.
Growing Pile Of Evidence
Despite all the bad press and stories from politicians, there is a ton to love about vaping. For starters, we know these anecdotal stories of the teenage vaping “epidemic” are overblown thanks to extensive reports from Action on Smoking and Health. They asked over 60,000 students about their relationship with vaping before determining only around 0.1% of non-smoking teens are ever vaping more than once or twice. This can only mean that far fewer are ever ending up smokers due to the impact of vaping. We also know e-cigarettes are one of, if not the best smoking cessation tools we have thanks to a report from the University of Louisville. That team tested all the most common quit aids and tools before determining it was vaping which is more likely to succeed than anything else, including prescription drugs.
The case for vaping only gets stronger once you look into the harm reduction value provided. Going back as far as 2015 we have reputable evidence which suggests vaping is at least 95% safer than continued smoking. These results didn’t end there, and in fact just a few months back a team of researchers concluded the toxicants in vapor are 93% lower than in cigarette smoke. As impressive as those findings are, nothing compares with the study which found the excess lifetime cancer risk of a vaper is about 57,000 times lower than demographically similar smokers.
Smoking continues to kill more people every year than any other preventable cause, and yet we spend all this time and effort to regulate the proven best tool in that fight. Most legislators are more than happy to simply apply tobacco control laws to vaping products, instead of doing their job and working to understand how they’re different and developing the ideal solution. We need to be working toward developing a framework which maximizes the value of vaping, while still protecting and educating teens about the dangers and risks of addiction. If we ever want to end the smoking epidemic once and for all, we simply must use all our best tools which includes vaping.
Are you surprised so many states have gone this route to regulate vaping? What’s the most essential part of vaping to you? How can we teach more people about the value of e-cigarettes? Let us know what you think in the comments, and don’t forget to check back here or join our Facebook and Twitter communities for more news and articles.