Officials in another American city are placing onerous restrictions on where residents can dip or vape, enacting a ban on the products in open-air settings.
The Iowa City Council voted to enact the new limits on tobacco and nicotine products Tuesday, which specifically prohibit the use of these products in city parks. The ban also includes cigarettes, which suggests vapor and smokeless tobacco products are just as harmful as smoking, despite their substantially different risk profiles, reports the Iowa City Press-Citizen.
The majority of cancer-causing chemicals and toxins from smoking are released through combustion, therefore smokeless tobacco and vapor products reduce harm caused by cigarettes to the user by more than 90 percent.
Mayor Jim Throgmorton opposed the law, arguing it was too restrictive while noting that smoking was already banned in most of the city’s parks. Despite Throgmorton’s protest, officials passed the ordinance in a 6 to 1 vote, citing public health interests to justify the restrictions.
Local governments throughout the country continue to try to restrict alternative smoking products, relying on dated statistics or predetermined narratives about their alleged dangers while ignoring positive research. Public health experts focused on harm reduction say these local bans are undermining public health and actually keeping residents hooked on cigarettes.
While researchers argue legislation aimed at cutting down on the use of combustible cigarettes is admirable, they caution against policies that falsely conflate nicotine-based devices with tobacco products.
“Taking steps to make e-cigarettes less accessible to current and future smokers means failing to make progress on reducing future rates of smoking-related diseases, which collectively kill 480,000 people in the United States each year,” Nicolas John, Northeast region manager for the free-market think tank R Street Institute, said in a report published Monday. “The measure of a successful public health policy should be the impact it has on the whole population, not just certain segments. While cigarette use in the United States is at an all-time low, the significant drop-off in smoking rates is due, at least in part, to the development of attractive (and much safer) alternatives.”
Americans are increasingly turning to electronic cigarettes as a way to quit smoking, according to federal data showing that former smokers made up 34 percent of all vapers in 2016.
The overall vaping population in the U.S. declined for the second straight year in 2016, while the share of the population that are former smokers increased, rising from 2.49 million to 2.62 million Americans in 2016, a paper released Sept. 28 by the R Street Institute reveals.
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