Carrie Lukas is the president of the Independent Women’s Forum, and she firmly believes vaping offers significant benefits that shouldn’t be swept under the rug
Vaping has grown in popularity as more and more people see and hear about the legitimate harm reduction and smoking cessation value of e-cigarettes. But as they’ve become more visible in the public eye, some have begun to worry about the impact of legitimizing will have on the younger generation. While very little evidence has shown a real connection between acceptance of vaping and a rise in teenage smoking, it doesn’t slow the torrent of advocacy groups and politicians aiming to reign in vaping.
Carrie Lukas is a very bright mind working as president of a woman-focused non-profit. The Harvard grad has worked for a number of different organizations, as well as having been published in many respected papers, including The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Post, and USA Today. She recently had an Op-Ed published in The Hill that took Senator Dick Durbin’s “just say no” stance on vaping to task.
Misinformation Runs Wild
Ms. Lukas opened her article up by targeting a recent quote from Sen. Durbin, “Originally, vaping was sold as the healthy alternative to tobacco cigarettes, the way to end tobacco addiction. And it turns out it’s insidious and harmful in it of itself and it doesn’t guarantee any end to tobacco addiction.” She decried this as pure misinformation of the relative risks of “different products.” These lapses in judgment from legislators is directly leading many people to make “worse decisions and suffer worse health outcomes.”
This is especially apparent when you look at the research. As Ms. Lukas points out, Public Health England published a large scale study several years ago that clearly shows vaping is at least 95% safer than smoking. No one is saying that vaping is 100% harmless, but when the alternative is continued smoking, the better route should be obvious, not shrouded by misinformation. She asserts that by essentially equating vaping with tobacco in the public eye, politicians are doing much more harm than good.
Effects On Society
According to Ms. Lukas, proper education should be the focus of legislators and public health organizations. Teaching kids that vaping is a harm reduction tool that has its own risks and therefore shouldn’t be picked up by non-smokers. Laws are in place to prevent kids under the age of 18 from purchasing e-cigarettes, but access is still prevalent, highlighting the need for more education on the real facts about vaping. Ms. Lukas made a telling comparison between the views on abstinence-only sex education and “just say no” vaping policy:
Of course, we want teenagers to abstain from smoking, just as we want them to abstain from sex. Yet if they are going to engage in these behaviors, we also want them to know the facts so that they can mitigate the risks of lasting harm.
She also mentions the widespread claim from former smokers that vaping was a key for them to break their habit finally. If you’ve spent any time around vapers, you’ve probably heard the same stories about smokers who had tried everything to quit to no avail. That is until vaping was able to get them over the hump. Lukas reasons that while it would obviously be best to “just say no” to cigarettes, for many e-cigarettes offer the best way to end their dependence on smoking sustainably.
It’s always great to see a public leader take a stand for the overwhelming utility of e-cigarettes. As Carrie Lukas said throughout her article, it makes no sense to scare the youth and public at large into thinking that vaping is just as dangerous as smoking. In fact, that sort of misinformation is ultimately doing much more harm than it is good. After all, if smokers don’t understand how much safer vaping is than smoking, why would they bother switching?
Just as with sex education the ideal situation is not typically viable, so instead we must do what mitigates adverse outcomes. For vaping, that starts with better education on the peer-reviewed research that shows a clear and significant harm reduction value. If we ever hope to live in a world that is completely free of smoking, we must learn to accept and support the many benefits of vaping as a harm reduction and smoking cessation tool.
Do you agree with Carrie Lukas and her stance on vaping? Do you think that teaching teens about vaping is the best way to limit non-smoking teens picking up the habit? How can we effectively show support for vaping to lawmakers? 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.