While the HUD is doing the right thing, the FDA is staying the course of anti-vaping rhetoric
The public view on vaping is in many ways tinted by the lack of knowledge about it. Many people, despite ample evidence to the contrary, still believe it to be as, or possibly even more harmful than using cigarettes and other tobacco products. The fact that many governments at both the federal and state level, have not taken a stance on the matter is a significant factor in this poor understanding. So at this time, while some state governments, such as Alaska, are finally acknowledging the difference between vaping and smoking, it is fascinating that two major government agencies appear to be taking two very different stances on the matter.
The Right Way
In February of 2017, it was announced that the HUD (The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development) would be establishing a ban on smoking in the apartments, common areas, and offices of public housing agencies operated under the HUD. This ban is to be entirely in place by July 30, 2018. While the ban regulates cigarettes, cigars, hookahs, and pipes; the HUD has singled out vaping as acceptable, and will not place a ban on the use of any kind of vaporizer.
The HUD has stated the main reason for the ban is to ensure access to healthy areas free of second-hand smoke for children and families. It becomes immediately apparent that by identifying vaping as separate, that the HUD is acknowledging secondhand vaping, and vaping, in general, are a healthier alternative to traditional tobacco consumption. Not only is this a validation that vaping is less harmful than smoking, but in many ways, it’s a win because it helps the public understand that vaping is different than smoking and poses much fewer risks.
The Wrong Way
However, where one government agency appears to be giving a ringing endorsement for the benefits of vaping over smoking, another seems set to dishearten this victory for vapers by suggesting it is unsafe for the public’s welfare. The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) commissioner, Scott Gottlieb, announced in a press release March 20th that the administration has begun a 90-day probe into flavored tobacco products, including menthol products and e-liquids, that happens to coincide with the HUD’s transition to a smoke-free, vapor supporting environment.
Gottlieb cites it’s proven vaping can be a beneficial cessation tool, but he also says that statistically vaping is the most common tobacco product used by middle and high school age children and that the flavoring of these products is believed to be the most significant factor in that statistic. Gottlieb is quoted as saying “…we need to be wary of the role flavors play in attracting youth to initiate on any tobacco product that could lead to regular use.”
While no one is suggesting that it’s beneficial for school-age children to be using tobacco or nicotine products, the possible prohibition of these flavored products could potentially curb many of the adults who both enjoy vaping as a cessation tool. This disagreement among departments is one that is most troubling and certainly sends mixed messages to the public about the safety and benefits of vaping.
It is essential, at this juncture, the benefits of vaping and it’s relative safety compared to tobacco be brought forward so that the smoking and the non-vaping public will be able to see the truth of the matter and hopefully end the stigmas surrounding vaping. FDA probe supporters should feel free to write letters and contact the FDA about their thoughts feelings and experiences with the matter. This will help not only smokers who enjoy flavored e-liquids, but also it will be beneficial for the people living in public housing. Now that they’ll find themselves without the ability to smoke, the transition to a safer option may be made easier.
Should more government agencies treat vaping the way the HUD does? Do you think that doing so would improve public perception? How can we encourage the FDA to take a cue from the HUD? 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.