Pakistan became the latest nation to float the idea of a total vaping ban, but their logic doesn’t seem to line up with the reality of the situation
Vaping bans are becoming more and more common as legislators struggle to come up with adequate ways of regulating the popular new devices. As a result, new countries attempting similar regulations can point to other nations following this trend as “proof” of its ability to reign in teenage use. The truth is that experts believe most vaping bans are actually doing more harm than good for the majority of people, including teens. Regardless, Pakistan became the latest major country to consider an e-cigarette ban while leaving combustible cigarettes regulations intact.
Making matters worse, countries that have supported vaping from the start, such as the UK, are currently experiencing their lowest levels of smoking ever recorded. These trends point to the same process many experts hone in on, a counterintuitive relationship between vaping acceptance and usage by teens. Unfortunately, Pakistan’s government, along with many others, has chosen the side of political fear mongering over evidence-based policymaking, and it’s the vapers and smokers of Pakistan who will pay the price.
The Changing Tide
It was just earlier this week the future of vaping in Pakistan was called into question by the Secretary-General of the Pakistan Medical Association (PMA). Dr. Qaiser Sajjad had remained relatively quiet on the topic of vaping until recently when he went on the record to say “There should be a ban on the sale of e-cigarettes. More young people are using e-cigarettes now. We don’t have any data on it. We don’t even know about any diseases caused by it.” These comments caused quite a stir among the vaping community, with many pointing to evidence in direct conflict with their claims.
Dr. Sajjad seems to be under the impression that not having found any evidence vaping is dangerous must be a bad thing. It’s unclear how not being able to connect vaping with any known issue is grounds to ban the harm reduction and smoking cessation tools, but nonetheless that is what Pakistan is currently looking at. There doesn’t seem to be a lot of resistance to these moves either, as Minister of the National Health Services Regulation and Coordination department, Aamir Kiani, is simply waiting for the word from PMA about how to proceed. Only time will tell what actually happens to the vaping industry in Pakistan, but evidence suggests there is a lot to lose.
The Benefits Of Vaping
Despite the ongoing debate about vaping, we have a growing consensus among researchers about the relative risk of e-cigarettes. Back in 2015, Public Health England first reported that vaping is around 95% safer than smoking, but this type of result has only been proven several times over the intervening years. In fact, as recently as last month a report was published that found vapor contained around 93% fewer toxicants than cigarette smoke. Bolstering these harm reduction claims further is a report published in the Journal of Aerosol Sciences. The researchers wanted to understand how vaping affects cancer risk, especially in comparison to smoking. They found that not only is vaping much safer, but a vaper has about a 57,000 times lower excess lifetime cancer risk than a demographically similar smoker.
Even more importantly, we have evidence that vaping isn’t leading to negative consequences in teens. Although many parents and legislators worry about the impact of vaping on non-smoking teens, the truth is evidence indicates these concerns are overblown. A massive study of over 60,000 students concluded only between 0.1% and 0.5% of non-smoking teens were starting to vape on a regular basis. This means even fewer are ever ending up smokers. But for some, the reason vaping is such a potential game changer lies with the smoking cessation value. In fact, studies have shown that not only is vaping an effective smoking cessation tool, but it may very well be the absolute best that we have.
We must keep fighting if we’re ever going to secure our vaping rights once and for all. The more places that implement total vaping bans, the easier it becomes to justify the behavior. In reality, it should be on the legislators to decide an adequate path forward which protects teens while still utilizing the extreme harm reduction and smoking cessation value of vaporizers. Not only that but blindly passing e-cigarette bans has been shown to have the opposite as desired effect. The bottom line is that vaping is a proven tool in the ongoing fight against the tobacco epidemic. If we genuinely value putting an end to smoking once and for all, we simply must take advantage of vaping and stop allowing country after country to ban vaping.
Are you concerned with vaping bans growing in popularity around the world? What do you think is the biggest reason people don’t trust vaping as a useful tool? How should we teach people around us about the value of vaping? 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.