Not every country in the world is a fan of vaping. We mean this from a legislative perspective, as legislators in countries around the world have passed vaping bans. Not all countries, but some.
Recently, India passed a vaping ban after deciding that the risk to the country’s youth was too great. Their finance minister, Nirmala Sitharaman, said that even though e-cigs were initially promoted as “a way in which people can get out of the habit of smoking cigarettes” the Cabinet thought it was time to take decisive action to protect the health of their citizens and of their young. She cited the recent vaping-related injuries and deaths reported in the United States, which is still under investigation. As of present, a clear link between e-cigarettes and the reported injuries and deaths has not been established. And interestingly, the majority of those who have fallen ill have reported using vaporizers with THC, which is one of the active ingredients in cannabis.
Regardless of the fact that US investigators have not established a link between e-cigs and the reported illnesses and deaths, India has put in place a ban on the distribution, manufacturing, production, importation, exportation, storage, advertisement, and sale of e-cigarettes. The ban also includes heat-not-burn products like IQOS as well as e-hookahs.
As a result of the ban, those found to be in violation can face prison time of up to one year and/or a $1,400 fine. The fine, in rupees, equates to 100,000. Repeat offenders face in stronger penalties, including five years in prison and a $7,000 fine. Simply storing some e-cigs now results in a $700 fine and up to six months of incarceration.
In the US where the incidents have reportedly taken place, various states have either threatened to ban e-cigs or have banned them. The same goes for various cities. Even some companies have stopped selling them, such as Walmart and Sam’s Club. Interestingly, both of these stores continue to sell cigarettes, which have been linked to around half a million deaths a year in the US alone.
In Australia, the vaping laws are currently and have been fairly strict. Vapers can buy e-cigs in many areas at local stores, but they can’t buy e-liquid that contains nicotine anywhere in the country. This leaves vapers to buy their nicotine e-liquid online from overseas stores and have them shipped in for personal use, which the country’s import laws allow.
While all of this is going on, the United Kingdom has continued marching forward with their endorsement of e-cigs for smokers due to the findings of their government-mandated review of e-cigs, which found e-cigs to likely be much safer than smoking normal cigs.
Help One, Hurt Another
There are two major factions impacted by all of this. There are smokers who have switched to vaping who, in some cases, will no longer be able to buy e-cigs and may revert back to smoking cigs, which, based on the UK government’s research, would leave them worse off than were they to continue vaping instead. There are also all of the smokers who could potentially switch to what the UK government believes to be a less harmful alternative. And then there’s everyone else. In the latter group, the main focus appears to be on the youth.
By banning vaping products, smokers and vapers are penalized in an attempt to protect the youth. Meanwhile, cigarettes are still available in many of the places where vaping has been banned or might be banned. Strange, no? Leave cigarettes readily available, but ban e-cigarettes, which may be a less harmful alternative. As the numbers stand, and as stated earlier, cigarettes are responsible for hundreds of thousands of deaths every year in the United States. That’s a very big number. Vaping, thus far, may have been linked to less than ten deaths in the US. What exactly caused those deaths remains unclear at this time, but with the majority of the cases that have been reported, what we do know is that the individuals have indicated that they were vaping THC, which has essentially nothing to do with e-cigs designed to vape e-liquid that sometimes contains nicotine. For that matter, New York state officials have indicated that those who have fallen ill may have been vaping a contaminated substance, possibly vitamin E.
Taking all of this into account, it would appear as if the concern with e-cigs may be unfounded, in a sense. However, the concern with what, specifically, people are vaping may very well be of the utmost concern.