Why we should support restrictions on vaping
The Canberra Times
It’s difficult to argue that children should be able to purchase a device that mimics smoking (and comes in a variety of lolly flavours) at their local convenience store. Or that we should be comfortable with electronic cigarettes being marketed as glamorous and cool, just as regular cigarettes used to be.
For the uninitiated, an electronic cigarette (or e-cigarette) is a battery-powered device that heats a liquid, containing chemical flavours, to a temperature at which the liquid vapourises. The vapour is inhaled from the device and exhaled by the user in an action that is very like smoking a cigarette. Hence the terms “vaping” and “vaper” as opposed to “smoking” and “smoker”.
This week the Victorian parliament is considering, for the first time, introducing restrictions on e-cigarettes: banning their sale to children, restricting their advertising, and preventing vaping in smokefree areas.
In the US the number of high school students using e-cigarettes tripled from 2013 to 2014, from 660,000 to 2 million. These figures prompted the director of the US Food and Drug Administration’s Centre for Tobacco Products, Mitch Zeller, to worry that “the progress we have made in reducing youth cigarette smoking rates is being threatened”. Most states in the US now ban sales of e-cigarettes to minors, in line with the new laws proposed in Victoria.
Research has shown e-cigarette use by US children is more than likely driven by advertising. This is a bit akin to research showing “water is wet”: anything advertised as glamorous attracts children. The new laws proposed in Victoria would place restrictions on advertising and promotion of e-cigarettes.