Despite rapidly expanding regulations, some critics are calling for even stricter restrictions on the vaping industry
It’s nothing new for the vaping industry to be woefully misunderstood by the majority of the public. It seems like ever since vaping first hit the scene as a popular harm reduction and smoking cessation tool, that it’s become a hotly debated topic. Despite the continually growing evidence which indicates vaping is not only much safer than smoking but also useful for other applications, the vast majority of the public seems to think vaping and smoking are essentially the same. In fact, polls have shown that only around 13% of adults understand that vaping is much safer than smoking, while over 26% believe that vaping is just as bad, if not more dangerous.
The result of this perception is evident, as regulations designed to curtail vaping have been gaining traction all across the country. This reached a boiling point last week when the FDA announced they would begin the process of banning flavored e-cigarette sale in many brick and mortar stores. The disconnect between what the public believes and what the evidence says has never been more apparent as, despite the latest crippling regulations, many critics still think the FDA is not doing nearly enough.
FDA Not Doing Enough?
As crazy at it might sound, this is precisely the sort of conversations that are happening now that the FDA has decided to move forward with their bans. It was earlier this month that Dr. Scott Gottlieb, the FDA Commissioner announced that they’d be rolling out a new game plan on dealing with teenage vaping. Commissioner Gottlieb has made it very clear in the past that he’s willing to forgo the benefits e-cigarettes offer adult smokers if it’s attracting teens. But instead of looking to the peer-reviewed evidence we have, the legislators have sided with fear mongering and moved to inhibit something shown to be an extremely useful harm reduction and smoking cessation tool.
Not being satisfied with the significant blow already dealt to the vaping industry, critics are now out for blood. The slippery slope that many vapers have worried about seems to be all too real. A recent editorial published on Bloomberg.com claims that the FDA is being “too soft” on vaping. The article, credited to the editorial board, lays out a short and anecdotal case for further regulation on the vaping industry. This includes a comprehensive ban on all flavored e-liquids across the country, both instore and online. Much like the one passed in San Francisco earlier this year. This has vaping advocates worried that such a precedent would only open the door for outright vaping bans to come next.
The Case For Supporting Vaping
While legislators and anti-vaping advocates are focused on what they perceive as issues with vaping, the evidence makes it a clear choice over continued smoking. Back in 2015, we got evidence out of Public Health England that indicated vaping is at least 95% safer than tobacco. Making the harm reduction case even stronger was research published last fall which found the excess lifetime cancer risk of a vaper is around 57,000 times lower than a demographically similar smoker. If that wasn’t enough, we also have reason to believe that e-cigarettes are the best smoking cessation tools we currently have at our disposal.
But likely the most crucial point to make when discussing the error in the FDA’s way is their hyperfocus on the impact vaping is having on teens. Dr. Gottlieb has said on several occasions that teen vaping is an epidemic and it must be dealt with swiftly. He worries that not only may vaping be dangerous but more importantly it is leading kids to a lifetime of smoking. But a poll of 60,000 students found that only between 0.1% and 0.5% of non-smoking teens are ever picking up vaping, let alone switching to smoking. So it’s clear that there’s a disconnect between what the evidence says and what our lawmakers are doing.
Make no mistake. The more ground we give up, the more rights they’ll try to take from us next. Vaping has been shown by researchers around the world to be significantly safer than continued smoking, yet the FDA is perfectly content to equate the two vastly different activities. The result is a population who misunderstands the benefits of vaping or what it even is. We must continue to fight back against unfair regulations that attempt to place vaping under the umbrella and control of existent tobacco control policies. The bottom line is that vaping is one of the best harm reduction and smoking cessation tools we have, and so it must be supported and not equated with deadly smoking.
Do you think the FDA will pursue further regulations after this ban is complete? How can we fight back against unfair regulations? What’s the best way to spread positive information about 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.