Vape devices have become one of the most popular aids to help cigarette smokers quit for good. According to Ash, more than 2 million people in the UK have stopped using nicotine altogether with the help of e-liquids. In fact, 60 million people worldwide have quit smoking cigarettes since vaping was introduced.
Due to compounding evidence supporting the benefits of vaping, the UK government have adopted a progressive attitude towards vaping laws. However, in other parts of the world, you could be fined or even jailed for using e-cigarettes. Countries such as Australia, Thailand and Venezuela have put in place vaping bans to prevent the consumption of e-liquids. In doing so, there are growing concerns with the rise of an unregulated black market and limiting access to a proven means of quitting cigarettes. In this article, we will explore the trouble with vaping bans and what it means for those consuming e-liquids.
Why Introduce Vaping Bans?
While the benefits of vaping as an alternative to smoking have been downplayed in the media, the supposed harm e-cigarettes can have on young people has been exaggerated. Misleading information suggests that e-liquid flavours such as candyfloss or bubble gum encourage non-smoking children to experiment with vapes. However, evidence suggests otherwise. Research found that imposing age restrictions on vaping had no impact on smoking rates, although it did reduce the number of young people that quit cigarette smoking. This is supported by NHS data which implies one of the main reasons young people vape is to help them quit smoking cigarettes.
Smoking vs Vaping
Misleading information spread via popular media outlets has tainted the general public’s view of vaping. In fact, the official UK Government’s website states that “thousands more could have quit except for unfounded safety fears about e-cigarettes. The evidence has been clear for some time that, while not risk-free, vaping is far less harmful than smoking”.
An online poll found a staggering 63% of adults in the United States disagreed with the fact vaping is healthier than traditional cigarettes. However, credible research from Public Health England states that vaping is 95% safer than smoking. This is because tobacco-burning cigarettes produce approximately 7,000 chemical compounds, 70 of which are known human carcinogens. In comparison, tobacco e-liquids simply heat a solution of nicotine, glycerin, propylene glycol and flavourings, helping to reduce a smoker’s chemical consumption.
Restricting Access to a Safer Alternative
A major concern with vaping bans is that they restrict access to a proven means of remaining cigarette free. Research suggests that e-cigarettes are twice as likely to help you quit smoking compared to other nicotine replacement therapies. This is because a smoking addiction is not solely pharmacological; it also involves cultural, behavioural and social habits. Vaping is an effective method to quit smoking because it is a safer replacement to these habitual actions.
The Black Market
Introducing a substance ban often has the opposite effect to what is intended. Typically, the more enforced a ban is on a product, the more potent the product becomes. We only need to look back at history to see the disastrous effects of substance bans.
The alcohol prohibition in the United States encouraged underground markets to become increasingly popular, making it easier to purchase alcohol compared to when sales were regulated. In fact, the prohibition didn’t stop alcoholism, it tripled it. With the professional alcohol industry out of business, people reverted to brewing beer in their baths, tainting the drink with impurities and metals. As a result, approximately 50,000 Americans died from drinking unregulated alcohol.
We can already see the disastrous effects if we scrutinise Australia’s vaping ban. Unregulated vape devices are being smuggled into the country and sold on the black market, posing a much greater risk to the general public. Although these devices claim to be nicotine-free, they have reported nicotine levels of 5%, over double the 2% maximum allowed by UK regulations
What’s most shocking is that the very countries introducing vaping bans continue to stock cigarettes in their highstreets shops. Those introducing the bans remain ignorant to the multitude of credible and recent evidence which suggests e-liquids are not only safer than traditional cigarettes but are also one of the most effective aids to help people stop smoking altogether. Thankfully, here in the UK, people over the age of 18 are free to consume vape products. We can rest assured knowing that reputable retailers adhere to the regulations in place concerning ingredients and quality of vaping devices.