On January 2, 2017 it became more expensive for retailers in California to sell e-cigarettes or vaping hardware. Thanks to state legislation that puts e-cigarettes in the same category as tobacco, vendors must pay a license fee of $265 per year to be allowed to sell e-cigarettes in the state. In addition, California stores that sell e-cigarettes cannot be opened within 500 feet of a school or playground.
As firm believers that e-cigarettes are a danger to youth, many opponents of e-cigarettes are applauding the new laws. The Director of California’s Department of Public Health, Karen Smith, remarked, “The surge in e-cigarette use among teens and young adults is no accident. The tobacco industry’s aggressive marketing of e-cigarette gadgets and candy flavors is jeopardizing the health of our young people.”
That’s a curious statement, because the tobacco industry has virtually nothing to do with the manufacture or sale of e-cigarettes, and nearly all e-cigarette advertising features images of adults and language stating that e-cigarettes are intended only for smokers as an alternative.
As for the “surge in e-cigarette use among teens and young adults,” this has accompanied a drop in the rate of cigarette smoking in the same age group. Nevertheless, officials seem determined to keep young people from using nicotine at all, even if that means taking away an alternative to smoking that has been shown to be almost 100 percent safer. Complete abstinence from nicotine – and any habit that even resembles smoking – apparently, appears to be the only solution lawmakers will accept.
Medical science has known for quite some time that the real danger of nicotine is in the delivery system that cigarettes provide. While nicotine is technically a toxic chemical, dangerous toxicity is a matter of dosage. That’s why we can safely drink water that has a trace amount of arsenic in it, or drink alcohol. Nicotine is addictive, and that is the the primary danger it carries. Smoking is deadly, so addiction to the nicotine in cigarettes tends to keep smokers smoking, negatively affecting their health and quality of life and quite possibly shortening their lives.
But anti-smokers, and now, anti-vapers, always point to the toxicity of nicotine when arguing in favor of complete abstinence or “step-down” methods like nicotine gums and patches. California officials claim that researchers have found 10 chemicals in the liquid nicotine that is used in e-cigarettes that cause cancer, birth defects and reproductive harm. Traditional cigarettes are known to contain 400 or more toxic chemicals. Even if there are 10 dangerous chemicals in liquid nicotine (which has never actually been proven with sound scientific research), does it make sense to consider e-cigarettes to be the same as smoking?
Most health officials and logical-minded people say no, but lawmakers across the United States and in many other countries continue to promote e-cigarettes as a horrifying unknown threat that is probably going to kill us all. There is more concern about “second-hand vapor” possibly harming someone that there is about human beings we know are being harmed by smoking. The truth is that there is far more evidence that smokers are becoming healthier by switching to e-cigarettes than there is evidence that e-cigarettes are harmful, but until lawmakers understand this, it could be become increasingly more difficult for smokers to make the safer choice.