What we don’t know about vaping can hurt us

Published 8:07 am Monday, October 14, 2019

While Tennessee healthcare organizations have called on lawmakers to ban vaping, Tennessee Governor Bill Lee has taken a measured approach concerning a ban of vaping products.
The Tennessee Department of Health says there have been 39 vaping related illnesses reported in Tennessee since early August, but no deaths.
Those numbers and other higher numbers nationwide have led a group of health care groups spearheaded by the Tennessee Medical Association to send a letter to Governor Bill Lee and other top legislative leaders “to take a firm stance…by implementing an emergency temporary measure to restrict Tennessee youth from obtaining vaping products.”
The Governor this week said vaping is a real serious subject, but would like to see more data. However, he did admit vaping is an impending health crisis.
Many people, including health professionals, have assumed that e-cigarettes are safer than traditional cigarettes because they use heated liquid vapor (hence the term “vaping”) rather than burning tobacco leaves in a process that has been proved to be carcinogenic. But “safer” doesn’t mean “risk-free.” A troubling increase of acute lung disease among e-cigarette users across 25 states is making the sobering point that there is still a lot we don’t know about the health implications of vaping.
Just recently, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention took the unusual step of warning the public to avoid using any electronic cigarette device until the agency concludes a multi-state investigation into the mysterious lung ailment and figures out what is causing it. The CDC launched the investigation in mid-August after receiving more than 150 reports of serious respiratory distress among e-cigarette
users, many of them adolescents and young adults.
Yet e-cigarettes are not regulated by the federal government. It’s up to local and state governments to ensure the health of their residents and take any action against vaping.
Should the state impose a ban on e-cigarettes, you can bet there will be pushback from businesses and from people who see this as another infringement on their rights. Vaping businesses market their products as a good alternative to smoking to help smokers quit. But e-cigarettes do contain nicotine and other harmful chemicals.
Some say that vaping is better than smoking cigarettes or inhaling THC products, but it’s an unregulated arena. Nothing good has come of it; a lot of sickness has.
There also are serious concerns about teens developing vaping habits.
A prohibition on the sale of vaping products is not a good idea in the long run. It will only lead to a burgeoning black market. But there is little regulatory oversight, and it’s time to gain control of the situation.
The Governor is right to delay a ban until he has more information. In the meantime, what we do know about vaping is not good. Regardless, vaping is smoking.

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