One committee in the UK Parliament is making a push to allow public vaping as a way to improve the harm reduction and smoking cessation value of e-cigarettes
Bans on vaping are becoming a reality for people around the world. Early adopters were permitted to vape nearly anywhere, but as popularity grew and legislators took note regulations have been put in place, some light, some harsh. Regulations have become commonplace, but for the most part, they are not based on factual evidence or data, but conjecture and worries. As a result, there are bans on public vaping nearly everywhere, even in countries like the UK who have taken pro-vaping stances.
Vaping in the UK, like in so many other countries, is banned in most public spaces and public transit, office buildings, restaurants, etc. But these bans may soon be coming to an end. The Science and Technology Committee has recommended to parliament that they reconsider public vaping bans. Despite public opinion to the contrary, the committee believes these bans are ultimately doing more harm than good.
Recommendations of the Committee
On the website of the Science and Technology Committee, they feel it is their role to make sure policymakers are using the best and most up to date information on science and engineering to make decisions for the public. That being their role they feel it is imperative that there be a more educated discussion on public vaping. Lawmakers around the world, not just in England, have been all too willing to equate vaping with smoking, not taking into account the vast differences between the two. The Science and Technology Committee at this time is recommending an annual evidence review and ongoing, long-term, research to keep the parliament up to date with information on vaping.
The Committee also has concerns about vaper’s well being. At this juncture, the population of vapers, who are almost all former smokers, are forced to share space with smokers. By putting people into that position, they are worried that former smokers will be at a higher risk of relapsing into traditional smoking. It is akin to making an alcoholic go into a bar every time they want a glass of water.
The risks are even higher for those with mental health challenges. This population is already predisposed to a higher likeliness of smoking, and they tend to have a harder time quitting. The committee suggests that for that sake patients, they be permitted to vape inside. Instead of being forced to be exposed to the tobacco use of others.
Another suggestion from the Science and Technology Committee is that there be changes to the way vaping is taxed. Currently, taxes on vaping are virtually the same as the taxes on tobacco products. Smokers on the fence about switching would benefit from having one more reason to switch. The committee is recommending a tiered tax system. Taxes, they suggest, should “directly correspond to the health risks that they present.” Cigarettes would be on the high end, heat not burn somewhere in the middle, and vaping on the low end.
There is a great deal of research that shows a significant decrease in the dangers of vaping compared to smoking. An article published in the Journal of Aerosol Science concluded that the excess lifetime cancer risk, the risk of developing cancer beyond biological predisposition, of a vaper was about 57,000 times lower than that of a smoker. Another study out of the University of Louisville found that vaporizers are the most effective smoking cessation tool at our disposal, more so than nicotine gums, patches, or even prescription drugs.
Smoking is the leading cause of preventable deaths around the globe. It is, hands down, one of the worst things you can do for your long-term health. Vaping has not only been shown to be 95% safer, but also the most effective cessation tool developed today. It is vital that these two very different habits be viewed separate by legislators, and therefore the public. By connecting the two in law and treatment, the likeliness of a smoker taking up vaping becomes slimmer. It also puts those who have made an effort to quit in danger of being exposed to smoking, and therefore more likely to relapse. If we ever hope to live in a smoke-free world, then we need to do what we can, as individuals and as lawmakers, to support those who are quitting with the best tools at our disposal. We wouldn’t treat other recovering addicts in this way so why force so many vapers to?
Are you surprised that the public perception of vaping is so weak? Do you agree that comparative risk messages are one of the best ways to educate the public? If more people understand the benefits of vaping, do you think the smoking rate drop even faster? 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.