Reports indicate Minnesota could soon be the latest state to ban vaping by the same rules as tobacco. Experts warn this could have many unintended consequences.
Governments across the globe have been given the tall task of figuring out how to best regulate vaping in a relatively short period. Unfortunately, the vast majority of these legislators have chosen to go the skeptical route and essentially treat vaping as nothing more than an alternative tobacco product. Other countries haven’t always gone this path, with the UK standing as a shining example of what happens when you properly support the harm reduction and smoking cessation benefits of e-cigarettes. Regardless, we in America are often faced with lawmakers who simply equate vaping and smoking, instead of doing the necessary leg work.
This is precisely what appears to be happening in another state, as Minnesota legislators are poised to ban vaping by the same rules as smoking. Those in favor of the ban don’t see much of a difference between vaping and smoking, and are more focused on what they perceive as a teenage vaping “epidemic.” Alternatively, vaping supporters point to the growing pile of independent evidence which backs the harm reduction and smoking cessation value of e-cigarettes. However, what is the much bigger problem is concerns from experts that this type of vaping regulation is not only ineffective but may actually be making things worse.
If it comes to pass, the Minnesota vaping ban will be an amendment of the Minnesota Clean Indoor Air Act. This bill already prohibits the use of any tobacco products in most public places, such as public transit, schools, and most places of work. The change was spearheaded by Rep. Laurie Halverson earlier in the year during a meeting of the human health and services committee for the state. Like many who seek to ban vaping, she centered her argument around the fear that acceptance of vaping, even for legitimate purposes, will ultimately lead to more teenage smokers. She believes this update will make them a healthier community, but some say this short-sighted mindset may actually inadvertently create more smokers.
A leading expert in the tobacco control and vaping debate is Dr. Kathryn Scott, director of the Yorkshire Cancer Research Center. She’s never shied away from calling this popular type of regulation into question. Her main gripe is the idea that vapers, most of whom are former smokers, should be forced to use the same areas as people actively smoking. She likens this to forcing an alcoholic to go into a bar anytime they wanted a drink of water. A large portion of the blame for this problem should be placed on the media, according to Rep. Scott, as they are consistently spreading bombastic reports in the name of sales.
Evidence Supporting E-Cigarettes
The case for e-cigarettes is far from closed, but that doesn’t mean we don’t have substantial evidence supporting their value. In fact, we have plenty of reason to believe vaping could be one of the most game-changing pieces of equipment in the fight against tobacco. A report by researchers at the University of Louisville tested all the most common smoking cessation methods and tools to determine the most likely to succeed. After analyzing all their data, the team concluded that not only is vaping and effective quit aid, but it outperformed everything else. Even more impressively, the so-called teenage vaping “epidemic” now seems to be quite exaggerated. A report of over 60,000 students conducted by Action on Smoking and Health concluded as few as 0.1% of non-smoking teens are ever vaping more than once or twice.
Looking at the overall harm reduction value of vaping and the case only gets much stronger. Back in 2015, we got a massive study from Public Health England, which concluded vaping is at least 95% safer than smoking. These findings were huge news at the time, but these days we get studies like this all the time. Just a few months back, researchers found the toxicants in vapor are around 93% lower than in tobacco smoke. But nothing makes the harm reduction value of vaping quite as clear as the report from the Journal of Aerosol Sciences which found the excess lifetime cancer risk of a vaper is around 57,000 times lower than demographically similar smokers.
It’s a real shame this type of law is becoming the absolute norm. But that doesn’t mean we have to take things lying down. We have more evidence than ever that e-cigarettes significantly improve the health and well being of smokers, and although it can be hard to see sometimes, the momentum is shifting in our direction. With 2019 looking like a real make or break year for the industry, we must all do our part to spread the good word about e-cigarettes to the smokers in our lives. After all, without understanding what you stand to gain, why should smokers seriously consider making a switch? We either fight for our vaping rights now, or it may not be very long before we wake up and can no longer recognize the American vaping community.
What’s most important about vaping for you? Is it wrong for states to ban vaping by the same laws as smoking? How can we work to teach others 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.