The US Surgeon General has made his stance on vaping entirely clear. He does not like vaping and wants strict regulations and high taxes imposed. To protect the children, of course. Despite the fact the teen smoking is verifiably, unequivocally at generational lows, Dr. Vivek Murthy sees vaping as a threat that will undermine 50 years of progress to curb youth tobacco use.
E-cigs will undermine 50 years of progress. Think about that for a minute. That is one of the driving forces behind the motivations of anti-vaping people. I have been saying this for years. Tobacco control people have become anti-vaping people and part of the reason is the fear of encroachment. A newcomer has ridden onto the scene to save the day and they don’t like it. Unfortunately the fact that since vaping has arrived smoking rates have decreased is not at all persuasive or informative for many.
Let’s get serious here for a minute. The Surgeon General and many career, tax payer funded tobacco control advocates are angry about vaping because they are afraid of their progress being undone. No progress is being undone. Smoking rates are falling faster with vaping. But there is a much bigger issue in play here.
Folks, we are losing 480,000 lives a year in this country to smoking. Six million worldwide. I applaud these career tobacco control groups for their progress but if we are still losing 480,000 people a year, which we are, then that should not be good enough for anyone. Progress by inches should not be a satisfactory status quo. If there is a chance for a breakthrough and we mess it up because we don’t see the forrest for the trees, then shame on us. We lose 480,000 people a year in the US because of smoking. That has to be the primary consideration and if it is not we are dealing with a set of priorities in dire and desperate need of recalibration.
Surgeon General’s Stance On Vaping
The Surgeon General Report says that there is not enough evidence to show that electronic cigarettes and vaping are harmless. Indeed, no one should be making the claim that vaping is harmless and with appropriate age ID laws, we can make an effort to keep electronic cigarettes ou of the hands of teens. We should make every effort in that realm and support that aspect of the Surgeon General’s stance on vaping.
Dr. Murthy pointed out in his report that younger people are particularly vulnerable to nicotine. Whether or not nicotine is bad for you is debatable. There may be health benefits to nicotine. And there may be other factors that cause nicotine from burning tobacco to be more addictive, for example treating tobacco with ammonia causes faster absorption and more of a nicotine ‘buzz’. Those arguments aside, we do know that nicotine is a stimulant and can have a negative impact on a developing brain. Young people should not be vaping. We are all on the same page.
The Surgeon General’s answer to combat vaping is the problem. He recommends higher taxes and regulations as proven methods of discouraging use. The problem is that high taxes could make vaping more costly than cigarettes and lead to a smoking resurgence. Regulation currently on the books will limit the options for adult tobacco consumers.
When tobacco control groups and regulators assemble to discuss positions, they would be well advise to include the vaping community in on those discussions. The big picture is being lost in the shuffle. We are seeing a reaction to electronic cigarettes as opposed to analysis and consideration. Let’s get this right.