The city leaders of Ashland Kentucky have decided to push for a ban on vaping in public places, citing that they are still unconvinced that e-cigarettes are a healthier option than traditional tobacco. The proposed new ordinance came as a shock to the majority of the local community as the news was initially broken in the local paper as an aside to a parking meter story.
The vaping community within Ashland and its surrounding area’s is growing daily. The prevalence of adult smokers within this area was around 30% of the population, well above the national average and many in the local community have taken to vaping as a less harmful alternative source of nicotine. There are several vape shops within the city limits, several more within a couple of miles and there are plenty of customers to go around. If there was ever a city that needed to look at vaping as a tool to protect its population, this is it. The following is aimed not only towards the leaders of this city but also to those who are tasked with keeping the public safe everywhere.
If the city commission wishes to push for a ban on vaping in public spaces, I would like to see their decision based around facts and solid science, and hopefully, by the end of this article, they may see that enacting a ban would cause more harm than good.
While there is a quagmire of misleading information about vaping and the vaping industry being perpetuated by those who would quite happily see it disappear into the night, mainly to protect their own profits, we would like to point the commissioners in the direction of the British Government. While we, here in the United States, are still buying into the idea that vaping is no safer than traditional tobacco, the British Government is recommending that all of its current smokers try vaping to help them quit. An expert independent evidence review released last year by Public Health England stated that vaping is 95% less harmful than smoking. This is a governing body who are responsible for paying for the health care of their citizens, they would not make these assumptions without the facts to back them up. Even the most vehement anti-smoking, anti-vaping advocates openly admit that vaping is a much safer alternative to combustible tobacco. The fact that the commission is on record saying they aren’t convinced of this simple fact shows that they haven’t looked into the issue before drawing a conclusion.
While we may see stories of vape shops losing business due to rash ordinances being put in place, take a second to look at the implications of the very act of putting up no smoking/vaping signs. In the mind of the consumer, your constituents, you are giving the impression that vaping and smoking are the same thing. The harm caused by combustible tobacco, all of the smoking-related diseases, both to smokers and bystanders, are caused by the act of burning the tobacco and the chemicals added by the companies who sell the cigarettes. In vaping, there is no combustion and despite popular belief, even though sometimes there is a massive cloud of vapor that is produced by the device, the emissions are cleaner than the ambient air.
While I don’t agree that vapers should be blowing clouds in restaurants, the message you are sending is that there is no difference between smoking and vaping, a message which is very dangerous indeed. The UK study I referenced earlier tells that almost half the population believed that vaping was at least as dangerous, if not more dangerous than smoking. By giving people that impression, you are putting them on a course of continued harm, rather than one that could potentially save their lives. Rather than looking at these devices as a way to get around the rules of having to go out in the cold, maybe you should be pushing for more people to embrace them as a way to ensure the local children don’t lose their parents to preventable diseases.
The commissioners and the local vaping community should be working hand in hand to increase awareness, to let more people know that this technology is available and to educate the general public that even though they may see it as an annoyance, it could be saving someone’s life. While we are hearing tales of vaping re-normalizing smoking and causing a rise in teen tobacco use, the evidence is actually entirely opposite. Teen smoking rates are at an all-time low and according to the CDC, the teens that are supposedly taking up vaping in droves are actually teens who were already smoking.
If the city commission is indeed looking to improve public health, they should be leaving vaping alone to do its job. Leave it up to business owners to decide if they want to allow it, but don’t add to the myth that vaping is no better than smoking.
We have the opportunity to develop a relationship that could encourage that 30% of the population to walk away from combustible tobacco, by enacting this ban without due diligence you are wasting an opportunity to save lives.
The local business owners, their customers and an approximate 9 million other vapers in this country will not take it lying down, unlike smokers who became the pariahs of society, vapers take pride in having knowledge about this industry and they are here to help you not harm anyone in any way. By the time the commission reconvenes on February 11th to further discuss this ordinance, I can guarantee you will no longer have the ability to say that you don’t have all the facts on vaping.