As the world debates how to handle the growing number of e-cig users, many nations are starting to take action. The latest country to make headlines is Israel, with a new push to ban e-cigarettes in 2014. This week, news surfaced that Israel has released a proposal to completely outlaw e-cigarettes and the official vote is only six months away. In the mean time, Israeli press is painting a negative picture of e-cigs to villainize vaping and discourage smokers from switching to tobacco-free ecigs.
The proposal contains a lot of troubling information and most of it is inaccurate and misleading. It claims that electronic cigarettes are “even more dangerous” than tobacco cigarettes, largely because of nicotine content and propylene glycol. Because e-cigs contain nicotine, which is called “medical poison”, Israel hopes to ban e-cigs altogether. This is an interesting development, considering tobacco cigarettes also contain nicotine and are legally permitted throughout the nation.
Just ten years ago, smoking was a major problem for Israel. Reportedly 30% of men and 25% of women were smokers, but that number has been shrinking and now only around 20% of Israelis are using cigarettes. In order to push for better tobacco control, the country has enforced strict laws banning ashtrays indoors and fining businesses heavily if they allow smoking on the premises. Despite these rules, there are no age restrictions on tobacco sales in Israel, so teens can easily buy cigarettes without encountering any legal problems.
Recently, lawmakers considered a bill to ban all print advertising for tobacco products in Israel, but heavy lobbying from tobacco companies ultimately defeated the proposal. There is some speculation that the same tobacco companies could be pushing for e-cig bans in order to prevent lost revenue when smokers switch to vaping.
The proposal to ban e-cigs contains a lot of bad information and outright falsehoods. It states that using an e-cig for just seven minutes will deliver 24 milligrams of nicotine while smoking for the same amount of time only delivers 1 milligram of nicotine. This information is totally unsubstantiated and could easily be disproved in a lab. The Health Ministry also insists that propylene glycol is dangerous, despite its presence in many foods and cosmetic products. The proposal also says that the FDA has banned e-cigs in the United States because of the same health concerns, however this is simply not true. While the FDA has threatened to regulate e-cigs, they have taken no action at this point and a ban is highly unlikely in the future.
Over the next six months, e-cig supporters in Israel have a lot of work to do. It’s important to debunk the myths in the new Israeli proposal and help the Health Ministry to see the benefits of e-cigs as an alternative for smokers. Do you think Israel e-cig fans can successfully prevent the ban?