City regulators in Nebraska are asking for assistance from the state to impose an outdoor ban on vaping and smoking, ignoring research showing the devices pose no second-hand risks.
The city of Lincoln will soon ban vapor and tobacco products from the Centennial Mall in order to adhere to the University of Nebraska’s new smoke and vapor free policy, which goes into effect Jan. 1. The city does not control the State Office Building property, however, which occupies space on the Centennial Mall, where employees regularly smoke in a designated section outside the building, reports the Lincoln Journal Star.
The Lincoln Parks and Recreation Advisory Board is asking the state government to step in to ban smoking and vaping on the premises. While public health experts agree efforts to reduce exposure to cigarette smoke are admirable, they argue those efforts are bolstered by vapor products, devices that are helping millions of smokers ditch the habit.
Restricting the use of safer technologies not only risks pushing former smokers back towards combustible tobacco, but sends the misleading message to the public that vapor products are just as harmful as cigarettes.
Vapor products, which heat liquid nicotine and contain no tobacco, eliminate roughly 95 percent of the health harms associated with cigarettes because the majority of disease-causing chemicals are only released through combustion.
Public health experts focused on harm reduction argue that if American cities truly want to promote better lifestyle choices, vaping should not be lumped in with restrictions targeting 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.
Recent research also shows vapor from e-cigarettes does not pose any meaningful secondhand risks. A forthcoming study investigating the health impact of aerosol vapor emitted from the devices shows 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.
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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