The All-Party Parliamentary Group for Vaping in the UK recently recommended a loosening of restrictions on e-cigarettes
All across the globe, vaping is handled very differently by legislators. Many factors play into how lawmakers will handle the regulation of e-cigarettes. Further than that, what’s right for some places may not be right for others. This disconnect is especially understandable once you consider how prevalent vaping has become in such a short amount of time. Governments around the world all had to decide how to handle this new and misunderstood harm reduction and smoking cessation tool at the same time.
Unfortunately for vapers in America, the FDA has been ramping up their regulation of vaporizers over the last couple of years, but this isn’t the case everywhere. The UK has often been regarded as the country with the most progressive vaping attitude and policy, with England’s own federal health agency, PHE, concluding in 2015 that vaping is at least 95% safer than smoking. This trend hasn’t slowed in recent months, as members of the UK’s All-Party Parliamentary Group for Vaping just published new recommendations for workplace vaping policies in an effort to help those looking to quit smoking.
The 12-page report published on November 20th opens with an explanation from the chairman of the group, Mark Pawsey MP, that vaping is not the same as smoking. This simple fact is often lost in the rhetoric, but it’s nonetheless important to make a clear note of. Before getting into the five major recommendations of the group, MP Pawsey gives the proper context for them by explaining why it’s so essential vaping is taken seriously for its benefits. Building on this, one of their recommendations is that vapers themselves should vape responsibly, acknowledging that they must act like reasonable adults who respect the wishes and boundaries of others.
The rest of the recommendations are aimed squarely at the policymakers who are in charge of where vapers are allowed to vape. This includes asking employers to have separate designated vaping and smoking areas, taking into account many vapers are former smokers who risk relapse when put in small spaces with lit cigarettes. Building on that they also recommend vaping policies are separated, not merely an extension of smoking policies. Next, they believe the Parliamentary Estate should be the first to implement these new policies to give a proper example to others. Lastly, they think PHE and others should put more focus on educating the public about the distinctions between vaping and smoking, especially the difference between second-hand vaping and second-hand smoking.
In response to this news, The New Nicotine Alliance, one of the many vaping advocacy groups in the UK, sent out a press release which “warmly welcomes this report.” They went on to encourage employers across the nation to begin the process of putting these policies into practice. “More liberal workplace policies can have the dual benefit of correcting these misperceptions while also providing a more encouraging environment for vapers to prevent relapse, as well as for smokers considering vaping instead.”
Helping this movement along is the growing pile of peer-reviewed evidence which indicates vaping is one of the best smoking cessation and harm reduction tools we have. Last fall research published in the Journal of Aerosol Science concluded that the excess lifetime cancer risk of a vaper is around 57,000 times lower than that of a demographically similar smoker. But likely one of the most important things we now know about vaping is that it’s not the gateway critics make it out to be. A study of over 60,000 students published by Action on Smoking and Health concluded that only between 0.1% and 0.5% of non-smoking students are picking up vaping on a regular basis. This means an even smaller number of non-smoking teens are ever making the jump to cigarettes.
We live in a very pivotal time for the vaping industry. In places where it’s been fully supported, such as the UK, we see wonderful results. The smoking rate drops in most developed countries where vaping is freely available. They’re certainly doing better than those who chose to ban them. So while much more research is needed before we can say anything with 100% certainty about vaping, we already have plenty of reason to believe it’s much safer than smoking. Given that cigarettes still kill more than almost anything else, we must support the best tools we have to fight them. If more policies like this are implemented and backed by the public, we could finally see a world that is free of smoking once and for all.
Do you think this policy recommendation will have a positive impact? What’s the best way to teach others about the benefits of vaping? Do you think American businesses should also implement this sort of policy? 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.