Cities Continue To Shun Science In Pursuit Of Public Bans Treating Vaping Like Smoking

Steve Birr | Contributor

Officials in a Washington state city are ignoring the latest positive research on vaping in an effort to treat the devices like cigarettes in a proposed public ban.

The Lacey City Council will debate instituting a ban on the public use of tobacco products in Lacey city parks at a work session Thursday. A member of the general government committee, part of the Lacey City Council, recently proposed the restriction on tobacco products, which under their definition includes all vapor products, devices that peer-reviewed research studies show drastically cut harms from combustible cigarettes, reports The Olympian.

Andy Ryder, mayor of Lacey and chairman of the general government committee, gave his public support to the proposed ban last week. The calls for more restrictions on smoking and vaping come in the wake of similar bans in cities throughout the state, including in neighboring Olympia.

Lawmakers in Kent, Wash., voted Dec. 7 to ban all tobacco products, including vaping and smokeless tobacco, from public park property. The only property exempted from the ban is a popular golf course facility.

“The city of Kent is a little behind this trend,” said Julie Parascondola, the director of Parks in Kent, according to Q13 Fox. “We understand that we can’t prevent people from smoking, but promoting healthier lifestyle choices aligns directly with our mission of fostering overall wellness for Kent residents and parks’ visitors.”

Public health experts agree that efforts to reduce public exposure to tobacco smoke are admirable; however, they argue those efforts are bolstered, not undermined, by vaping devices. They say if American cities truly want to promote better “lifestyle” choices, vaping should not be lumped in with restrictions targeting tobacco.

Vaping devices heat liquid nicotine and do not contain tobacco, but continue to be painted as tobacco products and included in restrictions applied to traditional cigarettes. More than 1,200 public park systems in the U.S. have banned vaping and smoking.

Electronic cigarettes reduce harm caused by cigarettes to the user by up to 95 percent because the majority of cancer-causing chemicals and toxins from smoking are released through combustion, according to Public Health England, an arm of the U.K.’s Department of Health.

Recent research also shows vapor from e-cigarettes does not pose any meaningful secondhand risks. A forthcoming study investigating the health impact of aerosol vapor emitted from the devices shows that chemical levels in the vapor released from e-cigarettes are well below the safety limits suggested by both the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the World Health Organization.

Despite the promising science on vaping, local governments throughout the country are plowing forward with policies restricting alternative smoking products, relying on dated statistics or predetermined narratives about their alleged dangers while ignoring positive research.

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Steve Birr



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