Vapers Are Treated Like Smokers Under Another Public Ban

Steve Birr | Vice Reporter

Officials in a Mississippi community passed a ban on the public use of electronic cigarettes that treats the harm reduction, nicotine-based devices like any other tobacco product.

The Board of Aldermen in Hernando, Miss., adopted an ordinance Tuesday in a slim 4-3 vote banning the use of vapor products in all public places in the city. The ordinance amends the city’s smoke-free policy to include electronic nicotine delivery systems like vapes, which do not contain any tobacco, essentially relegating their use to areas where smoking is allowed, reported the DeSoto Times-Tribune.

Public health experts focused on harm reduction are critical of policies that conflate the destructive health impacts of combustible cigarettes with vapor products. They say policies should reflect the difference in risk between cigarettes and alternative technologies. Instead of alarmism over the alleged threats posed by vapor products, users should be taught about the relative risks of those products when compared to smoking.

Lawmakers did carve out an exception for shops where at least 75 percent of their products are “vaping related,” however, the exemption does not apply if any form of tobacco is also sold on the premises. (RELATED: Anti-Vaping Efforts Aided By ‘Fawning’ Media Are ‘A National Disgrace’ Putting Smokers’ Lives At Risk)

Gary Higdon, the alderman for Ward 3, spoke out against the exemption, arguing the ordinance needed to be stricter. He claimed vapor products are destructive to public health, saying the proof is, “all over the internet.”

Higdon appears unaware of the reams of peer-reviewed research that proves vaping devices significantly reduce the harms caused by cigarettes, because the majority of cancer-causing chemicals are released through the combustion of tobacco.

Scientists at the University of Catania in Italy recently conducted a three-year study investigating the effects of regular vaping on the body of the user, finding “no evidence of health concerns associated with long-term use of e-cigarettes” on blood pressure, heart rate, body weight, lung function, respiratory symptoms, exhaled breath nitric oxide and exhaled carbon monoxide.

The American Cancer Society (ACS), which is historically critical of vaping, recently issued a position statement on e-cigarettes that acknowledges their safety compared to combustible cigarettes and argues medical providers should support smokers who are attempting to quit with a vaping device.

The ACS still prefers smokers quit cold turkey or use cessation tools approved by the Food and Drug Administration, however, they argue ditching cigarettes to exclusively vape, “is preferable to continuing to smoke combustible products.”

“Based on currently available evidence, using current generation e-cigarettes is less harmful than smoking cigarettes,” said the position statement from the ACS.

Despite the positive research local governments throughout the country continue to restrict alternative smoking products, relying on dated statistics or predetermined narratives about their alleged dangers.

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