Vape: An Innovative Harm Reduction Product

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Vape: An Innovative Harm Reduction Product
11 Min Read

The vaper community wants to figure out with legislators and regulators, they would like to be a good stewards of the industry.

Legislative momentum continues to create for action against vaping within the wake of highly publicized deaths and illnesses vaguely attributed to the industry. Wanting to appear aware of a purported public-health crisis, states including NY, Michigan, Washington, Massachusetts, Oregon, Rhode Island, Ohio, and California are moving to ban sales of certain e-cigarette products or have done so already. The legislative target has already moved subtly from black-market cannabis poisoning — the foremost likely culprit for these deaths — to the unrelated and heavily hyped "youth flavor-vaping epidemic." Some cities have already banned flavored e-cigarettes.

Unprecedented Overreaction

This is an unprecedented overreaction and one that, if not checked, will end in serious harm to many people looking to quit smoking. Why are governments — federal, state, and native — so wanting to line up against vaping?

About a decade ago, the event of e-cigarette technology including vaping, ehookah and atomizers, because it has become known —offered a revolutionary opportunity for smokers trying to find how out of their habit: a battery-powered device heats a liquid mixture of propanediol, vegetable glycerin, flavoring, and nicotine to deliver nicotine to a user without the carcinogenic baggage of combustible cigarettes.

This method of nicotine replacement allows the user to urge an equivalent behavioral experience as to smoking without as many of the health consequences. Studies about the invention soon followed. Public Health England, an equivalent entity that warned the planet that cigarettes cause cancer, determined that using an e-cigarette was a minimum of 95% safer than smoking a standard cigarette.

E-cigarettes are sold in hospitals throughout England to assist smokers to quit. A study within the Journal of the American Medical Association found that "Use of e-cigarettes appears to be related to exposure to known tobacco-related toxic-ants, but the exposure is reduced compared with cigarette smoking." Smokers were willing to accept this risk to urge themselves off a deadly product that kills 7 million people worldwide per annul and is understood to cause cancer, a heart condition, and lung disease.

Vape: An Innovative Harm Reduction Product

The Outset

Still, almost from the outset, a coalition of public health advocates, concerned parents, and federal bureaucrats led the charge against the e-cigarette industry. Moreover, now these groups try responsible nicotine-based, flavored e-cigarettes for the recent "lung crisis."

However, little evidence exists that such e-cigarettes are making people sick. Somewhat, the incidents are often credibly tied to illegal, black-market THC (marijuana) cartridges. Yet the CDC has not demanded that each one of the patients presenting with this mystery lung disease be urine-tested for THC. Instead, the CDC's central message is, "Stop vaping." The result: a high-profile panic among a public already concerned by the CDC-hyped "youth vaping crisis."

The Vape Dilemma

The public-health advocacy industry, along with side government health agencies and, more recently, the President of the US, have seized the chance, deciding that the answer to the "crisis" is to ban or restrict flavored e-cigarettes.

They are way astray in these efforts: legally purchased, flavor-based nicotine vapor is not likely liable for the lung damage being seen in emergency rooms. Flavor-based nicotine like fantasia hookah flavors and other popular e juice are liable for many people quitting a deadly tobacco habit that they were unable to kick using the government's preferred methods over decades.

E-cigarette users wonder how their experiences can differ so much from what officials and health advocates are telling the general public. "I smoked for 41 years, and that I spent 30 of these years trying to quit," says Mark Slis, who runs a vape shop in Michigan. "And it had been 100% thanks to the flavors." He estimates that he has helped 1,000 people quit smoking — which virtually all his customers use the flavored e-cigarettes. If the state's flavored-vaping ban goes into effect, he will leave business. Moreover, in Michigan, the ban's terms are punitive — violators could face prison terms up to 6 months.

Vape Tech Enters

The Vapor Technology Association has filed legal challenges to a number of these state bans, but it is an uphill battle. Unless flavored nicotine-liquid products gain CDC approval — after a multi-million-dollar application process — the agency is thanks to move against them. Moreover, though an agency just like the CDC does not have the authority to ban flavors formally, it does not need to. In essence, all it must do is make the barrier to entry punitively high, and therefore the small businesses that structure the vapor industry will disappear. This may effectively push people back to deadly cigarettes, or to finding flavors on the black market.

Tonya Burgess, a 24-year-old Indiana resident who started vaping two years ago, thinks that the govt attacks on vapers will encourage people like her to return to smoking. "I spent my whole life trusting the government ," he says, "and now I am wondering, what is going on?"

Many people like Slis, his customers, and legions of other vapers who are helped by this technology now regard government health agencies with distrust, since they cannot understand why officials would want to require away such an efficient tool against smoking addiction.

"I do not trust the CDC. Not anymore," says Michigander Debbye Saladine-Thompson — a nurse, 32-year-long former smoker, and volunteer for Consumer Advocates for Smoke-Free Alternatives Association. "I cannot trust the workplace that says the merchandise that I then many of us are using for ten years and has not caused one death is now causing many illnesses. No, I don't believe that."

Vape: An Innovative Harm Reduction Product

Effort Of Collaboration

Adding to the frustration is that the vaping community's effort to collaborate with legislators to deal with public concerns are spurned or ignored.

"The vaper community here wants to figure with our legislators and regulators, we would like to be good stewards of the industry, which we have shown, but we must tend the prospect to try to do so," said James Jarvis, head of the Ohio Vapor Trade Association, at a recent pro-vaping rally. "We urge Gov. [Mike] DeWine and legislative leaders to find out about our industry, to know the role flavors play and understand vape stores are not those selling to minors."

The forces aligned against vaping — many funded by the government and anti-vaping business interests — do not want this choice available to smokers. Why?

One reason: the government features a financial interest that keeps smokers hooked into combustible cigarettes because as smokers quit, revenue from cigarette taxes diminish.

The states also enjoy a windfall of tobacco money via the Master Settlement Agreement (MSA), an appointment effective between tobacco companies and most of the states, during which the tobacco companies pay the states a percentage of their cigarette-sales revenue to combat the health scourge of smoking — and in exchange, the tobacco companies get legal immunity from lawsuits by sick smokers. The fewer people smoke, the less money the govt receives. From 1998 until 2017, the tobacco companies have paid out a staggering $119.5 billion to the states signed on to the MSA — and $25.4 billion to the four states with their agreements with the tobacco companies.

It sure looks like the govt makes extra money from smoking than the tobacco companies — which it might have a significant incentive in ensuring that enough Americans continue smoking.

Bottom Line

This is a story of how a community of innovative and dedicated people created a life-saving, harm-reducing health product — only to ascertain a cynical federal, greedy politician, and a public drunk on a media-generated moral panic plan to stomp it out.

Vapers face powerful opposition, but they need some forces of their own: a minimum of 9 million adults now use nicotine-based e-cigarettes, and 10,000 small businesses, with 90,000 employees, add the orbit of the vaping or e-cigarette industry—and they are beginning to organize themselves. How will this struggle play out? Perhaps we will determine at the box.