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Vaping Health Risks Touch America’s Puritanical Nerve

By Tyler McCanus

Thursday April 14, 2016
vaping in america

The controversy around vaping health risks isn’t likely to subside anytime soon. Even with false accusations being refuted easily, there appears to be this lingering doubt regardless of the facts. Unfortunately, at times a negative impression can be formed of something that isn’t negative at all, and it can stick longer than it should. That’s the way it is with vaping health risks, a topic that has taken too much of the attention away from all of the benefits of electronic cigarettes.

Of course, this focus on vaping health risks isn’t merely by chance. There are lobbyists who are pushing for this story to be the primary one in the minds of traditional tobacco cigarette smokers. Actually, they probably want this impression to be the leading one for the public as a whole. While some of this activity has simply come about by skeptical officials who may think vaping just looks too much like smoking to not be bad for you, that isn’t the entire story. Yet, regardless of who is leading this effort to discredit electronic cigarettes, it has gotten entirely too much traction.

It’s almost as if these people live in a vacuum where the alternative to vaping is, what, air? We know that smokers are the ones making the switch to electronic cigarettes and we also know how terrible traditional tobacco cigarettes are to your health. But we still see ecigarettes getting assailed for the mere possibility that there are vaping health risks. Again, the data doesn’t back up these scary words being thrown around. Even if there was a chance of some negative effects, do we really want to discourage people from making the switch away from smoking?

Vaping Health Risks Seen Differently in UK

Vaping-Health-Risks-Seen-Differently-InUKAll of this makes us wonder why the supposed vaping health risks claim gets so much more attention here than it does in other parts of the world. A great example of that is the approach to electronic cigarettes in the United Kingdom. In the UK, the thought process has been remarkably different.

It’s not that there weren’t skeptics in the UK too. It isn’t as if some public officials did the same thing as they did here in the US, namely to speak out of turn without knowing the facts or having any data to back them up.

No, that did happen some in the UK too. The difference is that overall the assumption has been, and remains, that the bigger culprit is traditional tobacco smoking. The focus needs to be on getting those numbers down and in any way that could reasonably do it. That might have to do with how the UK views nicotine. As a new commentary in the New England Journal of Medicine explains, “In England, where leading medical organizations regard nicotine alone as relatively benign, the pressing need to reduce the risks for current smokers frames the debate, [while] the overwhelming focus in the United States is abstinence.”

That’s right, the big A word. Abstinence may be the best option for some things, but anyone who has ever tried to quit smoking knows how hard that can be. Doing it alone is often a recipe for failure, yet that is what some in America would rather have. They would rather create this culture of fear over supposed (and, again, not proven), vaping health risks rather than trying to find a way to reduce the risks smokers face every time they light up.

It doesn’t sound like a very good way to approach this and it makes us wonder if vaping has touched some sort of puritanical nerve. This all-or-nothing method inevitably leads to a lot of people not making it. Without vaping, a lot of smokers who could have used electronic cigarettes as a viable alternative continue to smoke. Millions of them will and many will be afflicted by the myriad of disease that we know smoking causes. It doesn’t seem logical that we would deal with our stagnant smoking rates by ignoring something we know helps. Something that Public Health England was brave enough to say is 95% safer than smoking.

If only we had that kind of bravery over here, maybe our vaping wouldn’t be needlessly picking up a bad name. Vaping health risks must have hit some sort of puritanical nerve. What else could it be?





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