Vapers all over the U.S. have been under the radar starting this year, with metropolises like New York, Chicago and Los Angeles banning the use of e-cigarettes in all public spaces and the highly publicized F.D.A. regulations proposed and under public debate. All of the commotion is keeping users, public health officials, and the whole e-cigarette industry on edge and common vapers can’t help feeling almost stigmatized by choosing to make the switch to these devices rather than inhaling the perilous tobacco smoke.
A certain amount of caution is undestrandable whenever new product comes along and takes off like wildfire. In turn, when a device comes along followed by misguided promises, medical claims and poor communication, can create a a bit of panic and overreaction.
Of course, there is still little research to demonstrate the health and safety risks from puffing on e-cigarettes, or from inhaling someone else’s vapor, but should city officials ban these devices and consider them as harmful as tobacco cigarettes even though there’s no evidence that it’s dangerous?
If the purpose of these bans is to protect non-vapers from being compelled to inhale ‘perilous substances’ against their will, then government agencies should be cautious to say the least, and gather the evidence they need to correctly implement these regulations.
Furthermore, treating vapor the same way as cigarette smoke is wrong from the start, since there are already two studies to show that ecigs are not at all as harmful as their tobacco counter parts. Maciej L. Goniewicz, PhD, Assistant Professor of Oncology, Department of Health Behavior at the Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo, New York is the co-author of two studies that analyzed secondhand exposure to ecig vapors in a laboratory.
In the first study, Professor Goniewicz and his team recorded nicotine levels of 2.5 micrograms per cubic meter of air and about 3.3 micrograms per cubic meter in the second study when it comes to electronic cigarettes. Tobacco smoking however resulted in nicotine levels ten times higher at almost 32 micrograms per cubic meter.
‘The exposure to nicotine is lower when compared to exposure from tobacco smoke. And we also know that nicotine is relatively safer when compared to other dangerous toxicants in tobacco smoke,’ Goniewicz said. ‘What we found is that non-users of e-cigarettes might be exposed to nicotine but not too many toxicants when they are in close proximity to e-cigarette users,’ he added.
Before restricting a personal liberty like puffing on an electronic cigarette in a park, or on the street, there should at least be some proof that the activity could potentially harm others – however slight it may be, as it seems like just a touch of overreacting to ban these devices outdoors where vapor dissipates quickly.