Vaping has become very popular among those wanting to live a smoke-free life while politicians pass laws banning or restricting the use of electronic cigarettes and vaping products. Across the United States local and state governments have taken the stand against vaping, many classifying and treating vaping products just like tobacco despite no tobacco being in the ingredients. While smokers who switch tell their true stories of renewed health many government funded campaigns have spread misinformation, causing confusion and potentially costing lives.
Many groups and politicians point to the myth there is either not enough research or vaping is as bad as smoking while ignoring scientific proof and truth. Truth does have a way of winning in the end and that is happening as one government is now supporting vaping as a safe alternative to smoking and as a way to improve public health while reaching smoke-free goals. Helping people understand safe alternatives that lead to reduced health risks, costs, and death is now officially important.
The government support is not coming from federal, state, and local governments in the U.S., unfortunately. Government support is coming from our historic parent government, England. Public Health England (PHE) has released a 111 page review of electronic cigarettes and a 6 page outline of government support based on the review. Just who is the PHE?
“Public Health England exists to protect and improve the nation’s health and wellbeing, and reduce health inequalities. It does this through world-class science, knowledge and intelligence, advocacy, partnerships and the delivery of specialist public health services. PHE is an operationally autonomous executive agency of the Department of Health.”
What are they claiming? Vaping, or electronic cigarettes, are a safe alternative to smoking that will be supported by the government of the United Kingdom. Just as the United States has government clamping down, the United Kingdom is ignoring myth and embracing scientific facts. The focus on scientific studies and proper education to help smokers and bystanders understand the potential benefits of switching to vaping is the foundation for their support of vaping. Regarding the safety and perception of risks the report states (emphasis added):
It is important that the public be provided with balanced information on the risks of e-cigarettes, so that smokers understand the potential benefits of switching and so non-smokers understand the risks that taking up e-cigarettes might entail:
· when used as intended, e-cigarettes pose no risk of nicotine poisoning to users, but e-liquids should be in ‘childproof’ packaging. The accuracy of nicotine content labelling currently raises no major concerns
· the conclusion of Professor John Britton’s 2014 review for PHE, that while vaping may not be 100% safe, most of the chemicals causing smoking-related disease are absent and the chemicals present pose limited danger, remains valid. The current best estimate is that e-cigarette use is around 95% less harmful to health than smoking
· e-cigarettes release negligible levels of nicotine into ambient air with no identified health risks to bystanders
· over the last year, there has been an overall shift among adults and youth towards the inaccurate perception of e-cigarettes as at least as harmful as cigarettes
The last bullet point directly speaks to a major challenge for smokers who may consider switching and improving their health in the process, inaccurate perceptions vaping is as harmful. In the U.S. this inaccurate perception is being fueled by government and special interest groups focused on treating and taxing vaping just like cigarettes despite the scientific facts to the contrary. Vaping laws are going into effect banning vaping in the same places smoking is banned and sending vapers to toxic smoking areas, areas many are attempting to break free from through the use of safe vaping products.
State legislatures and city officials across the country need to know truth will show their support for banning vaping is harmful to public health. It is time for states and cities everywhere to support efforts to vape as a way to further reduce smoking and create a smoke-free, healthier environment. It is time to stop banning vaping and begin educating smokers about the strong benefits of using it as a possible way to stop smoking. Public health is too important to continue to live under myths. Just as the truth is going to help improve public health in England, it should be allowed to help improve public health in the United States and around the world.