Federal Officials Want To Ban Vaping In All National Parks

Steve Birr | Vice Reporter

Officials at the National Park Service (NPS) are proposing a ban on all electronic cigarette devices throughout the U.S., claiming that the vapor exhaled by users is still potentially dangerous to bystanders.

The push for a ban reflects the U.S. surgeon general and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), who warn e-cigarettes are a major public health risk. The officials from the NPS want to amend their definition of smoking, where it concerns prohibited behaviors on NPS properties. NPS rules covering smoking have not been changed since 1983, when park superintendents were given the authority to institute partial or full bans on smoking in parks, reports The Hill.

Officials at the NPS say the potential adverse health impacts of e-cigarettes recently chronicled by the CDC and reports of exploding batteries, guided them towards proposing the ban.

“Acting out of an abundance of caution in light of the scientific findings and uncertainty to date, and in the interest of equity, the purpose of this proposed rule is to afford all NPS employees and park visitors the same protections from exposure to nicotine and other harmful substances that may be found in ENDS (electronic nicotine delivery system) vapor,” the NPS said in its proposal. “Non-smokers are exposed to nicotine and other potentially harmful components of ENDS vapor at higher than background levels when passively exposed to second hand vapor.”

“Vapers” lost a fight to lift restrictions on electronic cigarettes in New York City, New York, after a court upheld the constitutionality of treating vaping as identical to smoking cigarettes Tuesday. A consumer rights group appealed a ruling made in 2015 upholding a ban on vaping in bars, public parks and beaches, which was instituted by former Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy recently suggested vaping could serve as a gateway to cigarette smoking for teens, and that e-cigarette use among America’s youth is rapidly creating a public health crisis.

Many health experts took issue with the surgeon general’s report, criticizing government officials for ignoring the alleged positive impact vaping can have on current smokers. Critics of the Park Service move argue that promoting vaping over traditional tobacco aids public health, while harsh regulations make smokers less likely quit more conventional and more toxic habits.

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