Rethinking Global and National Policy Towards Vaping
Every day I receive google alerts for vape, vaping, e-cigarettes, electronic cigarettes, and about ten other related key words, as well as checking our own Vaper News daily, right here in Spinfuel, so I do not miss any vaping news. Almost every day, without fail, when I then read the daily news related to vaping and e-cigarettes, I want to immediately bang my head against a wall and scream. I just don’t understand the divisiveness of the issue, and why science, medicine, and politics are at such odds with the people. Notwithstanding the arguments put forth on each side of the vape debate; here is what we KNOW:
- Smoking is the #1 cause of preventable death in the United States and worldwide;
- Almost a half million lives are lost annually in the United States from smoking-related illness;
- Vaping is less harmful than smoking;
- More than one out of every ten Americans vape regularly; and
- Teen smoking and overall smoking rates are at an all-time low.
There can be no argument about these five propositions; they aren’t biased arguments, just the facts. Knowing these five things to be true begs the question of what exactly is it society is trying to accomplish here.
Isn’t the Goal to Eradicate Smoking?
We want everyone to quit smoking, right? We want to reduce the number of deaths and illnesses caused by smoking related diseases, right? I think everyone has the same goal: reduce unnecessary illness and death and the attendant societal costs which accompany smoking. So why is it that every day I get news alerts regarding new scientific studies on how vaping affects the anal glands of mice, and stories about states and countries around the world taxing and in some cases outright banning vape products? How does this further the goal of helping people live longer, healthier lives? IT DOES NOT. If we want to reduce smoking-related illness and death, we have found the “penicillin” and its name is e-cigarettes. Like every other substance on earth we put into our bodies, it comes with precautions and side effects, but like all things, the analysis should rest on whether the benefits outweigh the costs.
This is Where the Vaping Community is Important
This community is uniquely vocal in its enthusiastic support of vaping as a means of quitting smoking, and rightly so. For many of us, vaping is like a magic potion which has come along after decades of trying traditional methods of smoking cessation. Can you imagine not being able to accomplish something you have tried repeatedly for 10, 20, 30, even 40 years, and then all of a sudden, here comes this amazing technology and it happens immediately? And all of a sudden, the cough goes away, you feel better, and you no longer desire cigarettes because you have found an even better replacement? Nonsmokers, and even those who quit smoking through other methods, cannot imagine what a powerful transformational experience quitting smoking through vaping can be for those of us who have struggled the hardest to kick the habit. I think this is why vapers are such a vocal and motivated community. The key is to channel the motivation in ways that can help advance the cause.
What do You Suggest Julie?
I thought you would never ask! Since we know the five factors enumerated above are true, what is the best path going forward? Scientists, politicians, public health leaders, journalists: you KNOW vaping is less dangerous than smoking. Instead of doing studies with an eye to uncovering hidden dangers so you can write an article yelling AHA!, and instead of passing laws full of knee-jerk reactions to said studies, raising the vaping age to 21 and treating it as harshly or more harshly than cigarettes, let us all come together, and figure out how to make vaping even safer than it already is!
It seems so simple, but it is the key: instead of devoting all this time, money, and ink to debunking vaping as a means of smoking cessation, EMBRACE it as a means of smoking cessation, and figure out how to make it better! Diacetyl causes popcorn lung? Stop using it! Scientists – here is a task for you; figure out less dangerous ways to impart deliciously buttery flavor. Cinnamon flavor suppressing immunity? Public health leaders – don’t tell people not to quit smoking by vaping because of this; instead inform the public of the dangers of vaping certain flavors and encourage people to vape flavors that do not carry additional risk. And while the scientists are at it, can you work on some safer cinnamon-y goodness?
We Can Do This!
We can; we just need to reframe the debate. The debate should NOT be whether or not vaping is a legitimate and effective means of smoking cessation. The conversation must be reframed: we all KNOW vaping is safer than smoking; if scientists, politicians, and the public health community would change their focus to making it even safer, instead of trying to debunk it, we could move much faster towards a smoke-free world. Just keep fighting the good fight and spreading common sense, and until then, Keep Calm and Vape On!
Julie Selesnick is the president of The Happy Vapor Company, , and a contributing columnist for Spinfuel eMagazine. You can expect to see much more from Julie in Spinfuel eMagazine