A former Florida lawmaker is advocating the state treat electronic cigarettes and other vapor products no differently than tobacco cigarettes, ignoring the prevailing research from public health experts.
Former state Sen. Lisa Carlton, a Republican, wants the state to offer a constitutional amendment to restrict where people can use e-cigarettes. The proposal would ban the devices in all workplaces in the state, as well as nursing homes and assisted living facilities. Carlton, who serves on the Florida Constitution Revision Commission, says it will protect clean air standards, arguing vaping should be viewed no differently than smoking a cigarette, reports Orlando Political Observer.
The Commission meets every 20 years to discuss updates to the Florida Constitution and has the authority to put issues to the people through a ballot vote without approval from the state legislature. Carlton’s proposed amendment would change the “Workplaces without Tobacco Smoke” section of the constitution to “Workplaces without Tobacco Smoke or Vapor.”
“The goal is, if you cannot smoke there, you cannot vape there,” Carlton said, according to the Orlando Political Observer.
Critics of vaping crackdowns like the proposal in Florida say they actually undermine public health goals by restricting use of the products to areas where smoking is allowed. Smokers may be less likely to ever attempt quitting with a vape if the products are relegated to the status of combustible cigarettes.
The rules also suggest to the public that vaping carries similar health risks as combustible tobacco, despite a growing body of research showing they drastically improve the health of former smokers. A forthcoming study investigating the health impact of aerosol vapor emitted from electronic cigarettes also reveals it poses no meaningful secondhand risks.
The study, set to be published in the Journal of Aerosol Science in January, investigates the immediate health effects of vaping on a daily user and the impact to those in the user’s vicinity. Dr. Mauro Scungio of the University of Cassino in Italy spearheaded the research effort, which concluded that chemical levels in the vapor released from e-cigarettes are well below the safety limits suggested by both the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the World Health Organization.
The researchers determined that vaping is statistically 5,700 times less harmful to users than combustible cigarettes, drastically reducing the risk of developing smoking related illnesses. The scientists compared particles in the air from e-cigarette vapor with particle levels released from tobacco smoke to reach their conclusions.
Advocates of smoking alternatives say alarmism over vaping misses the larger point about e-cigarettes, namely that they are a harm reduction tool helping millions of smokers quit worldwide.
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