Banning E Cigarettes in Public Places Is Bad For Our Health!
Unsatisfied with having prohibited cigarettes in pretty much every place imaginable, politicians and regulators in the country have now set their sights on electronic cigarettes too.
Public health officials and regulators who've fought for years against smoking may be mistakenly reinforcing the tobacco market with their powerful stand against electronic cigarettes, some financial analysts say.
While many health experts view electronic cigarettes as a potentially game changing, safer alternative to smoking, many health organisations have warned of their potential risks. Canada, for example effectively outlaws all nicotine-including variants in any shape or form, including e cigarettes.
The resistance appears to have picked up even more in recent weeks, with public health agencies in Ontario and B.C. both urging crack downs on electronic cigarettes, stressing they could normalise smoking, or act as gateways to tobacco itself.
In Toronto the Medical Officer of Health for the city issued a report calling on the Ontario government to include electronic cigarettes in its anti-smoking legislation. A change that would make vaping unlawful everywhere that cigarette smoke is prohibited. The report states that when it does happen, the Medical Officer of Health will consult with the town solicitor and other town departments and report on municipal actions where smoking is prohibited to also prohibit electronic cigarette use.
Vancouver is also contemplating banning e cigarettes in parks, beaches and other areas where cigarette smoking is banned. In both instances, the reason for clamping down on e cigarettes is the same. Vancouver Councilor Kerry Jang claims that second hand vapour may contain compounds that are hazardous and that electronic cigarettes are being advertised to kids and minors. Toronto Public Health also mentions the potential health hazards linked with exposure to vapour that is second hand and the impact on youth smoking, and the possibility to normalise smoking behaviour and sabotage existing tobacco control laws.
The problem with this is there is very little evidence to support the anti e cigarette establishment and plenty of evidence that counters their claims.
For example there is a good deal of evidence to indicate that second hand vapour presents no risk whatsoever. A review of the accessible report run by a research worker at the Drexel University School of Public Health in Philadelphia concluded that no obvious issue is posed to bystanders by exposure to electronic cigarette vapour. Another study, published last year in the journal Nicotine & Tobacco Research, looked especially at the effects of second hand e cigarette vapour and also found that it may involuntarily expose non-users to nicotine, although this exposure is ten times less than from actual tobacco smoke, and not to hazardous tobacco-type combustion products. Additionally, there's a big body of evidence implying that e cigarettes are comparatively innocuous to individuals who use them, making claims about the risks of second hand exposure much more spurious, particularly in well-ventilated outside spaces where folks can readily move away from someone using the products.
It states that there is no evidence that e cigarettes encourage young people to begin smoking.
More significantly, scientists demonstrated that e cigarettes help them cease completely and can help smokers cut their smoke consumption down. And scientists warned that demanding regulation of the electronic cigarette business could "damage public health on a large scale".
E cigarettes come in a variety of sizes and shapes, but common to all of them is the manner they work. A built in battery powers a little electronic heating element found in the "atomiser", which draws liquid upwards from a cartridge and onto the part. The solution, generally a mixture of glycol, propylene, flavourings, glycerine, and - nicotine - critically, turns to vapour and is inhaled through a mouthpiece.
It's also not true that e cigarettes act as a gateway for young folk, who then go on to smoke real cigarettes. A 2012 study found that just 7% of adolescents had tried e cigarettes and that 91% of those were already smokers. It's true that the amount of young people that have used electronic cigarettes has been growing in the past few years. But data from the United Kingdom and the USA reveals that youth smoking rates also have been on a down tendency implying the gateway hypothesis is only a myth.
Other studies have addressed this question. Research conducted by Dr. Ted Wagener at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center found that out of a sample of 1,300 university students who'd started using e cigarettes, just one of them migrated to tobacco products. Another study released this year in the journal Tobacco Control found that a large part of the people who attempted e cigarettes were smokers anyway.
The chief difficulty with municipal governments pressing to prohibit e cigarettes in public places is that, unlike with conventional smoke, there's a distinct lack of evidence that any damage is caused by using electronic cigarette products.
Yes, being exposed to indoor second-hand smoke over long amounts of time can have serious health consequences, which is why a lot of authorities banned indoor smoking. And no one likes it when individuals litter cigarette butts on the ground and in places like beaches and public parks. But second hand vapour is safe. And there is as much chance of people throwing their mobile phone battery on the floor as there is their e cigarette battery.
As Boston University School of Public Health professor Dr. Michael B. Siegel wrote in a recent Wall Street Journal, government agencies and public health officials have no place deterring or disparaging electronic cigarettes with the lack of any data that they're actually causing any damage. This is particularly important when these products have so much possibility to curtail cigarette smoking, the public health scourge that claims half a million lives per year.
The issue of where e cigarettes can be used, should be left up to the free market. Certain businesses are well within their rights to forbid people using electronic cigarettes, for whatever reason as is it. If, for example a pub understands that its customers need to smoke an e cigarette, it should have every right to let them. It is time authorities learned to butt out.
Author: Kevin Ewbank
Avid vaper & co-founder of SmokShop