Yet another state is moving to equate vaping and smoking in a seriously misguided way.
The vaping industry faces mounting challenges as reactionary lawmakers continue to pass sweeping legislation under the misdirected guise of protecting public health. While e-cigarettes continue to serve people as a smoking cessation aid, poorly informed legislators put public health at risk by grouping smoking and vaping together, blurring the lines.
Recently the Connecticut State Senate passed a bill by a 25-4 margin which places a broad ban on smoking and vaping devices at state parks and beaches. The bill now heads to the House and Governor later in the summer for further approval.
Anti-vaping activists and organizations such as the Connecticut branch of the American Lung Association championed the bill as a move that benefits public health. Meanwhile, the vaping community decries this heavy-handed legislative action as a misguided effort to protect people, which ultimately puts them at greater risk.
Vaping activists argue grouping e-cigarettes with smoking may discourage people looking to quit from seeing vaping as a viable alternative.
While there may be truth to both sides of the argument, it’s essential to remain objective and look into the research for yourself when it comes to public health. Hastily enacted bans passed in the name of protecting that can often lead to more detrimental effects than more structured regulation.
Back in February of 2019, a bill put before the Environmental Committee of the Connecticut State Senate quickly passed with the glowing support of 25-4. After passing the committee vote, the bill advanced to the Senate floor where it passed with similar support. The regulation is currently awaiting approval by the State House, then off to the Governor where it’s expected to be signed into law.
The bill creates punishments for those who smoke or vape at state parks and beaches. The first violation of the law would be a formal warning, with the second being a fine. While it’s still unknown what the fine will be, some are worried the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection will overstep.
Groups such as the American Lung Association and American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network also praised the move and heavily supported the legislation. They point to over 300 municipalities throughout the country, as well as the entire state of Maine, which have formally enacted bans against vaping and smoking on public beaches.
The vaping community has widely decried the ban, feeling that this sort of lazy legislation overreaches and goes too far. Vaping enthusiasts, meanwhile, believe equating vaping with smoking perpetuates a negative stigma which prevents people from understanding its true value as a viable smoking cessation aid.
The Importance Of Vaping
There are plenty of valid reasons to enact smoking bans in public spaces, such as to help reduce secondhand smoke exposure to children and the elderly, as well as litter produced by cigarette butts. However, broad laws that lump vaping in alongside smoking can have severe and unforeseen negative health impacts over the long-term.
According to a study by the University of Louisville, vaping has been clinically proven to be potentially the greatest smoking cessation tool we have at our disposal, even beating out prescribed options such as Chantix. Instead of taking this into account, lawmakers are perpetuating harmful stigmas against vaping that may deter people who would have otherwise considered it as a viable alternative.
Another vital point to consider is that this legislation was rushed through the Senate in the name of protecting children and teens from the potential “dangers” of vaping. Yet research continues to show teens are taking up vaping in far lower numbers currently than they had ever taken had taken up smoking comparatively. In fact, a study of over 60,000 teens concluded less than 0.5% of non-smoking teens are ever vaping more than a few times.
These bans tend to fly directly in the face of scientific evidence surrounding vaping and thus seem to not be in the best interest of public health. Groundbreaking studies performed by Public Health England and the Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center show vaping to be up to 95% and 93% less harmful than smoking, respectively.
The vaping industry is still a burgeoning one and as such faces many obstacles and hurdles as it continues to establish itself. Regulations that impact industries with serious economic and public health implications should be approached with care and applied delicately.
Members of the vaping community need to remain vigilant and vocal about supporting the issues they care about through civic engagement. Complaining about certain political parties in the comment sections of news articles does nothing to protect your rights and freedoms as an individual.
However, the best way to counter bad information is with good information. So feel free to correct those records when you see media outlets biasedly sharing misinformation to push their own narrative. When it comes to legislation, vote for lawmakers who support and stand by your rights, criticize those that don’t, and vote against any public ballot initiative that may infringe on them.
How do you feel about lawmakers continuing to pass broad bans that treat vaping the same as smoking? How valuable do you believe vaping is as a smoking cessation aid? What’s the best thing we can do to support vaping? Let us know what you think down below in the comments, and please feel free to join our Facebook and Twitter communities to get the latest news and articles.