Has The American Vape Debate Shifted?

Posted 25th July 2017 by Dave Cross
It seems like only yesterday that the ‘Vaping Congressman’ placed an ecig bill before the American government. In reality, it was submitted in April, and the wheels of legislation turn very slowly. In the meantime, is it possible to discern a shift in attitudes towards the regulation of electronic cigarettes?

Maybe the answer comes from a cursory glance at a copy of Psychology Today, where Dr Judith Wurtman asks: “Can eCigarettes reduce smoking among the mentally ill”?

In her piece, Wurtman does something quite rare in media coverage in that she gets the nomenclature correct: “As they walked past, I realised that they were smoking, or rather vaping, e-cigarettes.”

It is impossible to lay the congratulations at the door of The Hunter Bill, but the winning of a war comes from victories in minor skirmishes and battles. It has been commonplace for the American (and British) media to conflate smoking with vaping – and all of the legislation in the States is predicated on the mistaken belief that ecigs are a tobacco product. So, for a piece in a widely read magazine to correct “smoking” for “vaping” in the first paragraph? That is a result.

By and large, her words cast a positive light on the electronic alternative to tobacco-related diseases - even if it was a short cut to piggybacking on a trending product to plug her fad diet book. Unfortunately, as Eric Boehm highlights, any cause for optimism needs to be placed on hold.

The Food and Drug Administration’s deeming regulation still hasn’t been rescinded. Following The Hunter Bill’s tabling, many calls were made to the FDA, and the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, requesting they modify their approaches to ecigs. Change to date? None.

As Boehm illustrates, having rigid rules doesn’t create an issue for old products. Things that have limited scope for development don’t need a flexible regime in which to advance and thrive. Or, as he says: “Because lawmakers didn't understand that the future might bring new, better products, we'll soon be stuck with only the old, dirty options.”

This isn’t a literal statement, nobody is claiming current devices are dirty options but, by placing a vast financial barrier on new products entering the market, maximising the potential of technological advances has been all but ruled out.

Then, as if we didn’t need reminding, we have places like Austin, Texas. Places like Austin, where even vape store managers side with those banning vaping from public areas: “I agree with what they are doing. I agree with having respect for people’s area and for businesses, I know better than not to use my vaporiser just because of the amount of respect you have to give other people in a closed environment.”

Of course, it’s all about the public’s health though, isn’t it?

Daniela Duvat, local resident and believer the world should be made to spin only on the days she wants, said: “For me as a non-smoker, I kind of don’t like the smell.”

 Dave Cross
Article by Dave Cross
Freelance writer, physicist, karateka, dog walker