Public-health concerns have renewed the controversy over vaping.
With politicians on all sides jumping on the anti-vaping bandwagon, it seems only a matter of time before the state and federal governments pass new laws that sharply restrict the product, its marketing and its flavors.
That’s fine. Complete abstention is the best approach from a health perspective, as noted by the American Lung Association.
“No one should use e-cigarettes or any other tobacco product ...,” the association stated in response to reports of illnesses and even deaths that have been linked to vaping.
While a laudable sentiment, however, abstention is not going to happen. People like their vices, whatever form they take.
But in the midst of the rush to put this new business out of business, it’s important to understand the cause of this latest media conflagration.
It’s not necessarily traditional vaping that has led to lung-related health issues among some consumers. It’s illegal cannabis-containing vaping products that have been identified as the likely cause of the problem.
Cannabis-containing vaping products are quite a bit different from the flavored products, including mango and mint, that appeal to consumers, most particularly younger ones.
There’s more to the e-cigarette issue that some people acknowledge. They were introduced to the marketplace as a means of helping cigarette smokers kick the tobacco habit, and they have proven helpful.
If there were no e-cigarettes, would more people continue smoking cigarettes? The answer would appear to be in the affirmative.
At the same time, would non-tobacco-smoking teens smoke cigarettes if they weren’t vaping? The answer would appear to be in the negative.
E-cigarettes heat nicotine, flavoring and other chemicals to create a water vapor that is inhaled and exhaled.
The Johns Hopkins University medical school reports that vaping exposes consumers to “fewer toxic chemicals than traditional cigarettes,” offering less risk. At the same time, nicotine is addictive and raises consumer’s blood pressure and heartbeat.
So it’s a matter of picking from two poisons, one being less poisonous than the other.
Much of the current debate has been focused on high-school-age consumers because vaping has become popular among them. Although it’s illegal to sell to them, young people have a way of obtaining that which is supposedly beyond their reach, whether it’s alcohol, marijuana, cigarettes or vaping products.
That’s why the powers that be want to ban the production of flavored vaping products. They want to eliminate the market by abolishing the supply.
But just as black marketers are producing vaping products that contain THC, the principal psychoactive constituent of cannabis, so, too, can these energetic entrepreneurs produce a variety of flavors.
After all, this apparently is potentially huge business, and where there’s a will, there is a way.
It is, of course, ironic that in the midst of all this hand-wringing about vaping and the horrendous threat it poses to the children, there has been remarkably little discussion about marijuana legalization in Illinois and elsewhere.
One form of THC is a killer, while the other, according to some advocates, is good for whatever ails a body, not to mention society as a whole. Forgive our skepticism on that point.
There are two problems here — the immediate health threat posed by consuming cannabis-containing vaping products and the long-term questions surrounding vaping itself. Given the widespread publicity related to the first, potential consumers can be expected to be more careful. The second will require a more thoughtful approach to this complicated problem.