‘Vaping’ debate heats up

newsJonathan Smith smoked cigarettes for more than 13 years, burning through a pack a day, until he decided two years ago to take up electronic cigarettes and nicotine “vaping” to kick the habit. Smith, 34, said he hasn’t touched a regular cigarette since then, and his health has vastly improved.

“It saved my life,” said Smith, now a manager at the Vapor Outlet in downtown Salem, Mass.

“The smoking was killing me, slowly but surely. Vaping just worked for me, and it has for a lot of other people, too.”

Despite Smith’s story and anecdotes like it, health advocates remain concerned about vaping’s effects and skeptical of its effectiveness as a smoking Businesses that range from shopping mall kiosks to big tobacco companies like R.J. Reynolds are pushing back. They argue that the products are safe alternatives to tobacco smoking that shouldn’t be over-regulated or taxed.

“Every month, more studies emerge showing that vapor products are far less hazardous than smoking for users, pose no significant risk to bystanders, and are effective at helping smokers kick the habit,” said Greg Conley, president of the American Vaping Association.

“These devices are not tobacco products, and treating them as such sends the absolute wrong message.” Public health officials disagree. They want the state to regulate e-cigarettes like other tobacco products by setting age limits for sales, requiring disclosure of potential toxins and banning “vaping” indoors and in public places.

Various proposals

One proposal, by Senate Majority Leader Harriette Chandler, D-Worcester, prohibits the sale of e-cigarettes and vaping products to anyone under 18 and sets requirements similar to those for tobacco products. Her proposal is backed by more than two dozen lawmakers.

By Christian M. Wade CNHI State Reporter

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