American Lung Association Wants To Cut Off Vaping Access Over ‘Secondhand Emissions’ Fears

Steve Birr | Vice Reporter

A top charity in the U.S. dedicated to improving lung health and saving lives is attacking the vaping industry in Massachusetts, advocating that lawmakers treat the devices like cigarettes.

The American Lung Association is encouraging the Massachusetts legislature to pass a law that expands the definition of the state’s smoke-free air act to include electronic cigarettes, despite the fact the devices heat liquid nicotine and contain no tobacco. The group is pushing falsehoods on the devices to create an air of public fear around vapor products, instead of relying on a slew of recent studies showing the positive health effects of vaping on current smokers, especially those trying to quit, reports SAMPAN.

Massachusetts state Rep. Paul McMurtry and state Sen. Jason Lewis, both Democrats, are spearheading the legislation, which public health advocates focused on harm reduction argue will restrict vaping access for smokers and make them more likely to continue using combustible cigarettes.

“Expanding Massachusetts’ smokefree law is a commonsense measure to reduce the public’s exposure to secondhand e-cigarette emissions,” said Jeff Seyler, executive vice president of the American Lung Association’s Northeast Region, according to SAMPAN. “It’s time for Massachusetts to catch up and prioritize our right to breathe healthy air that is free from secondhand smoke and aerosol by passing Rep. McMurtry and Sen. Lewis’ omnibus tobacco bill.”

Recent studies largely prove fears over secondhand exposure to vapor from e-cigarettes are unfounded. Research published in the Journal of Aerosol Science in January 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.

The study determines that vaping is statistically 5,700 times less harmful to users than combustible cigarettes, drastically reducing the risk of developing smoking related illnesses.

Experts in the field of tobacco harm reduction say policies that conflate the health risks of smoking and vaping does a disservice to current smokers, potentially dissuading them from using the devices to quit combustible tobacco and improve their health.

An article from a group of scientists appearing in the Annual Review of Public Health, which is set to be released in April, says the medical community must work to correct misinformation that the devices are a threat to public health.

In the forthcoming article, titled “Harm Minimization and Tobacco Control: Reframing Societal Views of Nicotine Use to Rapidly Save Lives,” the researchers argue that vaping technology gives society the unique chance to make a significant dent in smoking rates worldwide. They say if public health officials commit to harnessing the power of a cessation tool that actually satisfies smokers’ cravings, we can vastly improve the state of global health.

The group includes scientists from New York University (NYU), the Institute for Tobacco Research and Policy Studies, the Truth Initiative, the University of Nevada and the University of Vermont.

Despite the onslaught of misinformation in the media on the supposed threats posed by vapor products, millions of former smokers in the U.S. are transitioning to the harm reduction tools and quitting combustible cigarettes. Roughly 2.62 million former smokers were using a vape in 2016.

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Steve Birr

Vice Reporter

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