Published on January 11th, 2017 | by Jimmy Hafrey
In a disappointing yet expected move, the National Park Service announced yesterday that it has revised its internal regulations to ban vaping in any national park.
The move, which was reported on by both Westworld and WTOP, comes after more than a year of speculation on whether or not vape products would be placed under the same regulations as smoking. In fact, the speculation goes back further, with The Daily Caller reporting over a year ago that this ban was imminent.
Now it is clear: the NPS has defined vape products, including ENDS, as smoking products. This means that vape products are now clearly marked as tobacco products by at least one government organization, even though these products contain less than one-tenth of a percent of nicotine when compared to traditional cigarettes.
The acting director of the NPS, Michael Reynolds, seems to have forgotten this point. He said in a statement released earlier this week that: “Protecting the health and safety of our visitors and employees is one of the most critical duties of the National Park Service…It is clear from a recent rule by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and a report by the Surgeon General that electronic cigarettes are a threat to public health, especially to the health of young people.”
The revision of the regulation would incorporate vaping into smoking bans that are already in effect in parks around the country. While smoking is not outright banned in all parks, there has been a significant increase in the places people are banned from smoking, leading many in the vaping community to be concerned that an outright ban in all parks will be next. This is worrisome because national parks are outdoor and should be inclusive for all, leading the public to wonder if more blanket bans in other public spaces could be next.
The ban stems from the recent FDA regulations concerning vaping as well as recent comments from the US Surgeon General’s office, both of which this publication has reported on extensively. These regulations and the report from the Surgeon General have been criticized by vape advocates, scientists, and public health officials both here in the United States and abroad. The Surgeon General’s report has repeatedly been debunked since it was released, most notably by a study, which you can read here, that states that vape products have been a successful and popular smoking cessation method.
However, spending time understanding vaping seems to be the last thing on the minds of the NPS. In fact, the only thing the agency thinks about this vaping ban is that it is an insignificant action that will not affect the public in a substantial way.
“If you can smoke a ‘cigarette cigarette’ somewhere in a park now, you’ll be able to smoke an e-cigarette,” said Olson. “If there’s a place that you cannot smoke in a national park right now, we’re simply adding e-cigarettes to that list.”
The National Park Service’s revision will be open for public comment until March 7, 2017. Anyone who is interested in leaving a comment for review can do so here. We will update you on the NPS and it’s evolving views on vaping.