In the US, the controversy surrounding the use of e-cigarettes is more of a moral panic than any research-based fact. There is still so much that is not known about e-cigarettes, especially about long-term use, but the premise of the argument in the US seems to be based upon the notion that vaping is a gateway to smoking, and that young people are more likely to try regular tobacco cigarettes after trying e-cigarettes. As a matter of fact, research focused on smoking substitutes in the US has been largely narrowed down to the potential for children to become heavy users due to the fruity flavors that e-cigarette offers; the potential for kids to try and become hooked on smoking; and the effects that vaping may lead to cardiovascular diseases, a total contrast to the debate in the UK.
This argument is in total contrast to the UK, where statistics have shown a steady decline in smoking since 2014.
Stan Glantz, a tobacco control expert at the University of California San Francisco said:
“To say something is only two-thirds as bad as cigarettes – it’s like saying jumping out of the 20th story isn’t as bad as jumping out of the 30th story.”
He added: “The number of people left in the world who think e-cigs are harmless is getting to be a very short list, and it happens there’s a bunch of them in England. The number of people going around who say we don’t think e-cigs pose any risk is diminishing” [The Guardian]
It appears that vaping and smoking are lumped under the same umbrella and are not seen differently as in the UK. New York is the newest member of the 11 states to ban vaping. This ban came into law after Governor Andrew Cuomo accented to a bill that prohibits vaping at workplaces, bars, and restaurants – The Guardian
The ban on vaping has been welcomed by prominent voices of the anti-tobacco movement. One of such key voices is the executive director, Matt Myers, of the Tobacco-Free Kids campaign based in Washington DC, referred to the ban as “not only appropriate but important”.
“New York is not first to do this,” said Myers. “What we have found is when protecting people against any toxins indoors, you set a clear standard that both protects non-smokers and further de-normalizes any tobacco use.” [The Guardian]
The US National Institute on Drug Abuse has issued a warning concerning e-cigarettes stating that they may contain “potentially toxic metal nanoparticles”. The agency also stated that vaping “might be less harmful than cigarettes”. There is absolutely no doubt that more research will be required to ascertain what the long-term effects of vaping are.
Things are not likely to change much in the US concerning vaping, in fact, we are likely going to witness stiffer regulations to curb it, but with more open conversations and seeing vaping for what it really is, then it might become more acceptable. Also, as more countries like the UK record more successes with the reduction in smokers and a decline in smoking-related disease due to the use of e-cigarettes, there will definitely be a shift in the perception of e-cigarettes in countries like the US.
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