We’ve been up in arms about the lack of distinction between smoking and vaping for a long time here at ECCR. Part of the problem has always been the perception of electronic cigarettes. We understood in the beginning, as these ecigarettes did tend to look a lot like traditional tobacco cigarettes. That was on purpose of course, as it was a way to more gently introduce vaping to smokers. They also did emit clouds of vapor, which to the average bystander might very well look like tobacco smoke.
Other than the lack of ash and the lack of any smell, there seemed to be few differences from a cosmetic, superficial perspective. But beneath that skin-deep level, we all know that vaping was and is very different from traditional tobacco smoking. The vape vs smoke discussion grew from there and escalated as sales of electronic cigarettes skyrocketed and this grassroots movement began to hit the mainstream. That’s when all the lies and misinformation began.
It’s when opponents of ecigs began claiming that it would lure teens back into Big Tobacco’s arms. Or that ecig flavors were merely a way to attract children, as if no adult likes sweets and interesting flavors. A lot has been done to try and lump vaping in with smoking. But it can’t succeed – because facts outweigh opinions. Because simply saying something doesn’t make it true.
Along the way there have been many that were convinced of the differences between ecigs and traditional tobacco cigarettes. There have been more and more studies done. One of the big ones came to us from Public Health England last, when they revealed that their data showed that vaping on electronic cigarettes are 95% safer than smoking traditional tobacco cigarettes. Now that same government agency is coming out again and telling the public that not only is there a difference between vaping and smoking, but employers better take notice of it.
Employers Need to Make Room For Vaping
This is the kind of news you hope to hear about, and more precisely the kind of language you want to hear. New and official advice coming out of the Public Health England government agency is encouraging employers to make room for vaping. They say, “Vapers should not be required to use the same space as smokers, as this could undermine their ability to quit smoking and stay smokefree, particularly among those most heavily addicted.” How’s that for being straightforward and honest? If only we got that kind of understand here in America.
But it doesn’t end there. Along with instructing employers to separate smokers and vapors, they also believe the words being used make a difference. Hence they are stating out loud that, “To avoid confusion, do not use smoking terminology when referring to e-cigarettes.” This is a government agency in Europe? It’s shocking how much they simply get it. They get that smoking and vaping are not at all the same thing. They get the potential confusion by lumping them in together. They get the potential negative effects that vapers will have if they are forced to use a smoking room.
They simply get it. So does Professor Kevin Fenton. He serves as the National Director of health and wellbeing at Public Health England. “The evidence is clear that vaping is much less harmful than smoking and that e-cigarettes are helping many smokers to quit,” said Fenton. From that statement, he rightfully concludes that in order “To maximise the number of smokers switching to e-cigarettes, vaping should be made a more convenient, as well as safer, option.”
That most important part of all of this is the line they draw in the sand. No more lumping in vaping with smoking. It was never the right thing to do to begin with, and now we are finally getting some pushback. Professor Fenton succinctly explained that, “Different approaches will be appropriate in different places, but policies should take account of the evidence and clearly distinguish vaping from smoking.” We’re all in favor of that. Now maybe American organizations will take notice and follow suit. We certainly hope so.