Vaping Saves Lives. Leave It Alone!

In this undated image from video provided by Resound Marketing in August 2013, Jenny McCarthy uses a blu eCig in a television advertisement. Electronic cigarettes have often been described as a less dangerous alternative to regular cigarettes. But there are few studies exploring exactly what chemicals are in them, and whether they are harmful. Some experts believe that at a time when cigarette smoking has finally become passe in popular culture, e-cigarettes may re-glamorize puffing away in public places. (AP Photo/Resound Marketing)

Yesterday, American Spectator Online published a great article on vaping and the harm to human health, the knee jerk regulation of it will foster. Personal disclosure—I use commercial vape products moderately, as my continued off-ramp from smoking regular cigarettes.

Using commercially available e-cigarettes is a hugely safer alternative to smoking. That’s just science. As a now 7-years lung cancer-free patient, I’m getting more than a little angry at these nanny state meddlers who are taking a relatively safe product and demonizing it…to the potential harm of millions of people.

The lede to the Spectator article says it all

Despite evidence tying vaping-related epidemic to black-market THC vape products, health nannies want to ban legal products and thus give black markets a bigger boost.

After a serious outbreak of vape-related illnesses, a few of which resulted in death, lawmakers and their commercial enablers in the background (more on this later) immediately sprang into action and began to “solve the problem.”

Once again using the tried and true “It’s for the children” model, the nanny staters began a series of “emergency” actions to ban the sale of “flavored” vaping products and in some areas began initiatives to prohibit the sale of vape products to anyone under 21. Once again those who want to control every aspect of our lives, totally ignore the first step in the problem-solving process—Identify the Problem. As the article states, the products killing young folks aren’t commercially produced, flavored e-cigs.

In fact, the culprit appears to be black-market vaping products used to inhale THC-containing substances. THC stands for tetrahydrocannabinol, the chemical that provides cannabis with its sought-after high.

“U.S. and state health officials have traced the illness to vaping, mostly THC, and so far have identified vitamin E oil as a likely culprit,” according to a CNBC report. Vitamin E acetate is an additive used in those oils. CNBC quoted one pulmonologist saying, “It may turn out there are only two kinds of people who get this disease: those who vape THC and those who won’t admit it.”

Got that? The only people dying from this, are THC vapers using bootleg/homemade products. So what do we do? The article explains further.

None of this has any apparent connection to legally available nicotine vaping products. Yet that hasn’t stopped the health nannies. “The recent lung illness outbreak has alarmed physicians and the broader health community and shined a light on the fact that we have very little evidence about the short- and long-term health consequences of e-cigarettes and vaping products,” said Dr. Patrice Harris, president of the influential American Medical Association, in an official statement released this week — even after CDC released its latest information.

The group called for a federal ban on all vaping products that have not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration as a tobacco-cessation product. Given that the bureaucratic FDA has yet to approve any such devices, that would essentially mean a nationwide ban on vaping. That’s bad for public health, given the opportunities that e-cigarettes offer for smokers who are trying to kick their unhealthy habit. But it’s also likely to increase the kind of black-market-related illnesses we’re now seeing for some fairly obvious reasons.

If the government bans commercial vaping products, then more people will turn to the black market or homemade concoctions. And, remember, that awful lung disease appears tied to black-market products. “As more states, cities and even the federal government consider banning flavored nicotine, thousands of do-it-yourself vapers … are flocking to social media groups and websites to learn how to make e-liquids at home,” according to a CNN Health report this month. If the thought of the growing incidence of teen vaping upsets health officials, then what about the thought of vaping among those who make their own potions based on an internet recipe? Even I find that a bit scary.

So do I. The rest of the article details a number of initiatives at local, state, and even Federal level…all aimed at solving the wrong problem. As noted above, the downsides to this approach are manifest, chief among these is that the efforts being touted will likely herd even more younger vapers toward bootleg sources…those same sources that provided the products responsible for the disease and death we are allegedly attempting to combat.

Then there is the long term problem that impacts millions…millions of people who have used/continue to use e-cigs as a safe alternative to regular cigarettes. Earlier in this piece, I noted the attempt to ban e-cigs until the FDA could determine they are safe as a smoking cessation product. The major tobacco companies would just love that.

Adding an FDA regulatory process for e-cigs would take each and every e-cig off the market until that cumbersome and expensive process was complete. In short, it would be a rent-seeking project worth millions to Big Tobacco, as they essentially would be able to corner the market on e-cigs and shut out smaller manufacturers. Some of these smaller fish are already allowing their brands to be bought up because they anticipate an inability to pay for that lengthy approval process themselves. Talk about a government-sponsored anti-trust violation!

Finally, there is the – for want of a better term – “health math.” There is absolutely no question that, at least for the short to mid-term, e-cigs when compared to smoking regular tobacco, are almost harmless. Remember, this is all about risk reduction. The idea is to reduce harm. The last thing we want to do is involve nanny staters, who almost always make problems worse…in this case, the nanny state solutions would prohibit law-abiding folks from using this safe alternative to cigarettes, while funneling the rest, directly towards the products that are actually doing the killing. Put another way, government meddling will result in fewer folks getting free of cigarettes, while increasing the number of folks using unsafe bootleg products, basically making things worse for everyone concerned—a typical government “solution.” Time to stop the nonsense.

Mike Ford, a retired Infantry Officer, writes on Military, Foreign Affairs and occasionally dabbles in Political and Economic matters.

Follow him on Twitter: @MikeFor10394583

You can find his other Red State work here.

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Mike Ford
Mike Ford, a retired Infantry Officer, writes on Military, Foreign Affairs and occasionally dabbles in Political and Economic matters. 
Read more by Mike Ford