Gov. Cuomo signs bill that makes vaping illegal everywhere smoking is already prohibited
New York State Governor, Andrew Cuomo, and state legislators got together this week to ban vaping under the Clean Indoor Air Act. Now in just 30 short days, vaping will be prohibited in any public space that smoking is already. It will only seriously affect about 30% of the state’s municipalities, as the rest already have some form of vaping restriction, but this will have a severe impact on the e-cigarette debate nonetheless. New York isn’t new to restrictions on “tobacco” products. They were one of the first states to adopt a policy banning cigarette smoke in most indoor places.
A significant concern of lawmakers seems to be the safety of children, believing e-cigarettes to be a draw for teens. The American Lung Association goes as far as to lampoon vaping for only serving to hook kids on a dangerous nicotine habit. But Governor Cuomo doesn’t waste the opportunity to disparage the harm reduction value of vaping, focusing on the potential risks, regardless of how much safer they are.
The Story So Far
New York is no stranger to vaping bans. It was just January when the courts had to weigh in on the vaping ban currently in effect in New York City. They ruled that vaping should continue to be treated as a tobacco product and thus be under the jurisdiction of the Clean Indoor Air Act. This ruling, however, does not reduce the resolve of vapers who successfully quit smoking with the help of e-cigarettes. They understand better than anyone what is at stake. In fact, the vaping community as a whole is very focused on helping people improve their health and well-being. Not to suggest that it’s harmless, but instead acknowledging that switching from smoking to vaping could likely save millions of lived years.
It’s not just New York where this type of ban is threatening the rights of vapers. It’s already happening in large cities across the country, and abroad. Many of the fiercest proponents of these prohibitions are misguided and misinformed people. But popular opinion agrees that vaping is dangerous, and therefore it’s a very easy target to attack. In spite of all the bad press, true-blue vapers stick by their harm reduction value, feeling like e-cigarettes were critical to their quitting success. Even most scientists are starting to agree that vaping is much less harmful than smoking. So it would seem that the association of vaping and smoking among the general public is what is actually driving most of the negative sentiment.
Truth Of The Matter
Vaping does have potential risks; It would be foolish to pretend otherwise. People against vaping try to make it seem that just because there are possible risks, it shouldn’t be leveraged to help smokers quit. But more and more peer-reviewed research is published every week that indicates the extreme amount of harm reduction by making the switch from smoking to vaping. That is not to say, that we have enough research. Compared to many established products, there is still much that is unknown about the effect of vaping on our bodies. But leading researchers from around the world are beginning to reach the consensus that switching from vaping to smoking is much safer and worth the potential risks. Just last week researchers found that the lifetime cancer risk of a smoker is over 50,000 times greater than of a vaper.
E-cigarettes have also been proven to be a valuable tool for smoking cessation programs. In fact, over half of smokers who tried to quit smoking with vaping were successful. The caveat being that this only seemed to be the case if individuals committed to the switch and vaped every day, as opposed to just some days. This could prove to be the reason for conflicting reports on this question. Some researchers are not splitting up the everyday vapers and sometimes vapers, which may lead to their results being skewed.
Researchers have started to ask what makes vaping work better than other traditional nicotine replacement therapies. One theory is that cues that go along with both vaping and smoking, such as inhaling, bringing your hand to your face, and seeing a cloud, all help smokers transition to vaping. By looking and feeling like the real thing, not just quelling the nicotine addiction, e-cigarettes have proven to be extremely successful.
Even in the face of all this, many politicians still choose to go after vaping, finding it an easy “victory” by taking advantage of the general public’s lack of legitimate information. In this way, it is a vicious cycle that feeds itself endlessly. But the real shame is that the negative perception that is co-opted by policymakers ultimately prevents many smokers from ever making a quit attempt with vaping.
Do you think it’s fair for New York to ban indoor vaping statewide? Do you know people who think of vaping and smoking as basically the same? What’s the best way to get lawmakers on board with the smoking cessation utility of vaping? Let us know in the comments.