“Lawmakers Continue To Target Vaping Despite Known Dangers Of Smoking”

Despite the dangers of smoking and the millions of lives it is responsible for taking each year, lawmakers continue a systematic campaign targeting vaping while leaving cigarettes untouched. Unfortunately for vapers in one state, lawmakers are set to take restrictions against vaping far beyond any restrictions against smoking we’ve seen.

Legislators in Iowa have proposed an expansion to the state’s current restrictions against smoking, which is set to include e-cigarettes and other vapor products, effectively legislating vaping the same as smoking within the state. The legislation represents a sustained campaign by lawmakers to conflate and legislate vaping and smoking similarly despite there being no evidence of comparable risks between them.

Public health scholars and harm reduction experts alike have repeatedly cautioned against vaping bans, noting that turning former smokers back to cigarettes or toward the black market is a far greater risk to public health than any concerns over vaping. Anti-vaping activists have stated that such measures are needed to help curb youth access to vapor products, citing unfounded concerns of a teenage epidemic.

The proposed bills represent a disproportionate nationwide legislative response to concerns over vaping. Lawmakers continue to cite worries over teenage vaping and misattributed vaping injuries as primary drivers for the law, notwithstanding evidence emerging debunking both claims.

Prohibitionist Policies

Legislative subcommittees in Iowa advanced two new bills set to conflate and legislate vaping in a similar manner to smoking. These pieces of legislation could add new restrictions to the purchase and use of vapor products within the state.

Senate Study Bill 3016, sponsored by Senator Roby Smith, aims to raise the minimum age of purchase for tobacco and vapor products from 18 to 21. It’s worth pointing out the redundancy in this proposal, as President Trump raised the federal minimum age of purchase to 21 as apart of this year’s spending bill.

Senate Study Bill 3052, filed by the Iowa Department of Public Health, also expands the state’s 2008 “Smokefree Air Act” to include vapor products. This expansion will effectively ban vaping in public areas, including some outdoor spaces.

SSB 3052 is even more restrictive against vaping than smoking. The Smokefree Air Act allows exemptions for smoking inside of retail tobacco stores, while SSB 3052 makes no exemption for vaping inside of vape shops or vapor bars.

Truth About Vaping

Despite repeated claims of attempting to curb a teenage epidemic through restricting vaping, evidence continues to emerge, showing these claims are more myth than fact. A study published by New York University found that 86% of teens do not vape, and the minority that have tried it don’t vape regularly.

This falls in line with an existing body of evidence debunking claims of a teenage vaping epidemic. Research from Public Health England found that as little as 0.1% and 0.5% of teens even try vaping, with far less doing so regularly.

While lawmakers continue to cite unfounded claims about the dangers of vaping, studies continue to come out, highlighting its notable efficacy in aiding smoking cessation. A study in the New England Journal of Medicine found that vaping was more effective than traditional nicotine-replacement therapies in helping smokers quit.

Regardless of a sustained campaign against it, vaping is responsible for helping thousands quit smoking each year. According to a study by University College London, vaping was responsible for helping up to 70,000 British smokers quit in 2017 alone.

Conclusions

Lawmakers attempting to conflate vaping with smoking are actively acting against the advice of public health experts as well as the current scientific data surrounding them. These bills represent an example of legislator ignorance being codified in law, creating a threat to public health at large.

Prohibition against behaviors is often simple to pass and hard to repeal. Should these bills become law, legislative ignorance will become the law of the land in the Hawkeye state.

Lawmakers and regulators should allow the free market to regulate itself, as it had effectively been doing until unfounded concerns over vaping became viral over the summer. Members of the state’s vaping industry and community have no choice but to push back against these bills to preserve the future of vaping for Iowans.

What are your thoughts surrounding Iowa’s proposed vaping ban? What do you think the larger implications will be for the industry and vapers in the Hawkeye state? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below, be sure to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter to receive all the latest vaping news!

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