Modified ban in St. Louis mirrors a troubling trend for vapers.
The Louisville Metro Council voted last May in favor of a modified ban which will go into effect August 28th. The original law was expanded to now prohibit use of both hookahs and vaping devices of all kinds in public spaces, except for vape shops and certain hookah lounges. The fines will cost between 50 and 500 dollars depending on the circumstances of the case. This blow to vaping as a smoking cessation tool is especially unfortunate in a city like Louisville because according to data compiled by the CDC, Kentucky has more smoking related cancer than any other state.
This is just the latest in a very long list of knee jerk reaction vaping bans sweeping across America. All the while, vaping has become an immensely successful smoking cessation tool in countries that actively support its use over smoking. The typical defense of this position is to suggest that vaping is a gateway for non-smokers, especially the youth, to pick up vaping; It’s even suggested that vaping could lead to smoking tobacco.
Gateway To Smoking?
Last December, former American Surgeon General, Vivek Murthy stated in a report that increased vaping among the youth is a major health concern that is highly correlated with increased use of other tobacco products. But according to Monitoring the Future’s annual survey, over the last several years cigarette smoking is down in almost every grade surveyed. Between 2015 and 2016 smoking in 8th graders dropped a full percent from 3.6% to 2.6% and smoking in 10th graders dropped 1.4%, landing at 4.9%. The results are even more pronounced when you look at several years together. The percent of 12th graders surveyed that currently smoked went from 16.3% in 2013 all the way down to 10.5% in 2016.
It’s clear by these numbers that vaping doesn’t directly lead to smoking. In fact, the same survey by MTF found that the number of 10th and 12th graders that had vaped in the last 30 days had fallen around 3.5% over the last two years. So it appears that not only does vaping not lead to smoking, but apparently the prevalence of vaping doesn’t even directly lead to more teenagers picking up vaping itself.
By now it’s widely agreed upon in the scientific community, and reported most recently by Public Health England, that vaping is upwards of 95% more healthy than traditional smoking. In spite of this, the National Cancer Institute found that only 9% of those surveyed thought that vaping was any better than smoking tobacco. Advocates for vaping argue that these eye popping statistics are a direct result of the position many American governmental bodies have to highlight the potential risks of vaping as opposed too supporting it as an effective cessation tool. In effect this equates vaping in the public eye with the comparatively much larger risks of smoking tobacco.
One such entity doing this is the Food and Drug Administration, which recently announced a 36 million dollar “smokeless doesn’t mean harmless” campaign aimed at the youth. According to a article by Professors Lynn Kozlowski and David Sweanor, “research shows that the public already knows that smokeless tobacco is not harmless, but are also largely unaware that cigarettes are much more harmful than smokeless.”
With all of this misunderstanding in the general public, it’s paramount that the vaping community keeps education of the advantages to vaping in the forefront of the movement. If current trends continue, there won’t be enough popular support to ensure that our vaping rights are never restricted with the same prejudice as the much more dangerous and obtrusive habit of smoking tobacco.