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Vaping Bans: Why They Do More Harm Than Good

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In several of the world’s most populous nations, vaping is either completely banned or is so severely restricted that smokers – who can buy cigarettes on just about any street corner – have little reason to switch.

Here are just a few examples, courtesy of Wikipedia.

  • Australia: Vaping is legal, but buying e-liquid with nicotine requires a doctor’s prescription.
  • Brazil: Vaping is banned in Brazil.
  • India: The sale of all vaping products is illegal in India.
  • Iran: Vaping is banned in Iran.
  • Japan: The sale of e-liquid with nicotine is illegal in Japan.
  • Malaysia: Vaping is banned in all Muslim states in Malaysia.
  • Norway: Vaping is legal, but companies can’t sell e-liquid with nicotine.
  • Panama: Vaping is banned in Panama.
  • Singapore: Vaping is banned in Singapore.
  • Thailand: Vaping is banned in Thailand.

When you look for information about why so many of the world’s countries have banned vaping, the reasoning is usually something along the lines of, “We aren’t certain whether vaping is safe.” That reasoning seems to fall a little flat, though, when you consider the fact that there is absolutely no doubt about the danger of cigarettes – and cigarettes are readily available in every nation that has banned vaping.

That’s just one of the reasons why vaping bans do more harm than good: They keep people from switching to an option that researchers almost universally agree is less harmful.

Here are some more reasons why banning vaping is always the wrong choice.

We Actually Know a Lot About the Safety Profile of Vaping

Using the “unknown safety profile” of vaping as an excuse to justify a ban doesn’t just fall flat because it’s essentially the same as saying that you’d rather your citizens continue smoking cigarettes. It also falls flat because it’s simply not true. We now have more than a decade of scientific and real-world usage data verifying the original consensus that groups like Public Health England reached years ago: Vaping is as much as 95 percent less harmful than smoking.

After more than a decade, anyone who still claims that we don’t know anything about the safety of vaping is lying – and that should give you cause to wonder what that person’s true motives are. Governments that follow the World Health Organization’s tobacco control policies – which are decidedly anti-vaping – can apply to receive a portion of Michael Bloomberg’s billion-dollar grant for tobacco control funding. That grant could fund a great many high-paying government jobs.

The “Teen Vaping Epidemic” Doesn’t Exist Outside the United States

Government officials who don’t rely on the crutch of vaping’s “unknown safety profile” often mention the need to protect teens from e-cigarettes when discussing the need for strict vaping regulations. They point to the teen vaping epidemic in the United States and say, “See? That’s what will happen here if we don’t ban vaping before it’s too late!”

The problem with that logic, though, is that the teen vaping epidemic doesn’t exist outside the United States. That problem resulted from a confluence of factors – not the least of which being JUUL and its youth-oriented marketing campaign backed by tens of millions of dollars in investment money – that couldn’t happen elsewhere as they did in the U.S. In other nations such as the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand, research into teen vaping has consistently reached these conclusions:

  • The rate of teen vaping outside the U.S. is typically below 2 percent.
  • Teens outside the U.S. who have never smoked cigarettes almost never vape.
  • Teens who do vape have almost always previously smoked cigarettes and are either using e-cigarettes for harm reduction or to reduce and eliminate all nicotine use.

In short, banning e-cigarettes doesn’t do anything to combat teen vaping and may even encourage teen smoking.

A Vaping Ban Is a Lost Opportunity for Harm Reduction

Harm reduction is the idea that, if people are going to engage in a risky behaviour either way, then the best way to protect the health of those people is by mitigating the risk of that behaviour as much as possible. That’s the point of e-cigarettes. If products like nicotine gum actually worked, most of the world’s smokers would have quit long ago. Traditional nicotine replacement products don’t work, but tens of millions of vapers around the world have proven that e-cigarettes actually do help smokers quit.

It is our position that any government policy toward vaping should help to make e-cigarettes as appealing, available and affordable as possible to encourage smokers to choose the less harmful option. Any government that includes e-cigarettes in its “tobacco control” policy without doing anything to reduce the consumption of cigarettes has lost a major opportunity for harm reduction. Policy makers should instead focus on doing everything possible to reduce initiation of nicotine use. If no one started smoking cigarettes, there would be no need for e-cigarettes.

Vaping Bans Create Black Markets

History has taught us one thing, and it’s that prohibitionist government policies only serve to create black markets. Prohibiting a product that many people want – whether it’s alcohol or nicotine – only means that people find other ways of getting that product. Even in places where vaping is banned, people are still vaping – they’re just buying vaping products from informal and potentially unsafe sources. There is no logic at all in forcing smokers to break the law in order to consume nicotine in a less harmful way.

Vaping Bans Harm Non-Smokers

When government officials discuss vaping bans, they sometimes talk about the subject as though banning vaping is necessary for the protection of children. That’s rather ironic in light of the fact that children are more likely to use cigarettes if their parents smoke. Banning vaping will effectively set many children up for a future of addition to cigarettes. When parents switch to vaping, they’re showing their children that they don’t want to remain addicted to cigarettes and that they’re willing to make a major change in order to break that cycle.

An additional thing that lawmakers rarely consider is the fact that smokers often smoke inside their homes and expose non-smokers to second-hand smoke. The risk of adverse effects from second-hand exposure to e-cigarette vapour is far lower.

Vaping Bans Increase the Financial Healthcare Burden

Smokers create an enormous burden on the healthcare systems of the world. Nations, states and cities have attempted to reduce smoking rates – and offset the cost of caring for sick smokers – by applying heavy taxes to tobacco products. Research has shown, though, that heavy taxation eventually reaches a point of diminishing returns in terms of getting smokers to quit.

Tobacco taxes also have another problem in that they don’t actually cover the healthcare costs that smokers create. In the United States, for example, smokers drain more than $300 billion yearly from the economy. Of that, $170 billion is the direct cost of medical care. American states, meanwhile, only collect about $25.8 billion annually in tobacco taxes.

Some people have postulated that the main reason why some government officials would like to ban vaping is because they don’t want to lose the revenue that tobacco taxes generate. If that’s actually true, it would be a foolish point of view because governments pay far more in health benefits to smokers than they could possibly collect in tobacco taxes.

Jason Artman
Jason Artman is the owner and author of eCig One. A full-time freelance writer for more than a decade, Jason’s clients have included corporations such as Intel and eBay. Jason’s online articles have been viewed hundreds of millions of times. After quitting smoking and switching to vaping in 2010, Jason turned his professional attention to the vaping industry and now works with some of the world’s largest vaping and CBD brands. When writing for his own website, Jason focuses his attention on helping business owners with their vape marketing efforts.

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