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Politicians Demand: Smoking Ban Shouldn’t Apply to E-Cigarettes

The e-cigarette is still among the most controversial technologies of the 21st century. Although there has been repeated evidence that the devices can be an effective help for people to stop smoking, e-cigarettes are often still viewed very critically in society.
The reason for this is persistent prejudice against the long-term health consequences of consuming e-cigarettes. However, the interesting thing is that these prejudices have already been more or less refuted by several long-term studies. Many experts suspect that e-cigarettes are up to 95 percent safer than regular tobacco cigarettes.
The controversy surrounding e-cigarettes is perfectly illustrated through the diverse legislations around the world. In countries like Germany, England or the United States, the devices can be purchased legally in stores. The consumption of e-liquids is also completely legal, both with and without nicotine content. In other countries such as Brazil, Thailand or Singapore, however, both the sale as well as the consumption is prohibited. And yet other countries like Australia currently have a ban on liquids containing nicotine, while devices and liquids without nicotine may be purchased freely.
However, even if electronic cigarettes are legal in a country, their use in public is often subject to the same restrictions as smoking normal cigarettes. Vaping is strictly prohibited in most restaurants, bars and forms of public transport. Users of e-cigarettes therefore have to go outside along with the smokers and may only use their devices in the designated smoking areas.

Politicians wish for e-cigarettes to be treated differently than tobacco cigarettes

The continuing ban on the consumption of e-cigarettes in public places has now prompted a number of politicians in England to take action. The Commons Science and Technology Committee recently pointed out that the false assumptions regarding the dangers of e-cigarettes could in the long run cost the lives of many smokers.
Since e-cigarette users are treated in the same way as smokers in public, the risk for many of them to switch back to normal cigarettes is much higher than it should be. The image of vapers in the public eye is often the exact same as that of regular smokers. Another factor that increases their risk of falling back into old habits is the constant contact to smokers when vaping in public.
As an alternative, politicians urged the owners of restaurants or other public institutions, the operators of public transport and also employers to reconsider their attitude towards the use of electronic cigarettes. With regard to public transport, for example, there could be a special compartment where electronic cigarettes may be used.

What are the reasons for the bans on e-cigarettes in public places?

The reason for the continuing bans on e-cigarettes in public places is above all a false assumption regarding the dangers of second-hand liquid vapour. According to the committee's chairman, politician Norman Lamb, the vapour from e-liquids is “unpleasant”, but not necessarily dangerous. Since not even direct inhalation of liquid vapour has shown any real dangers to human health, the dangers from inhaling passive vapour should be negligible. In addition, some of the devices are designed to produce huge clouds of vapour that look much more dangerous and dramatic than they really are.

What are the committee's proposals?

In addition to relaxing the ban on e-cigarettes in public places, the committee has a number of other proposals that it believes would improve the acceptance of the devices by the public:
Removal of the limits on nicotine levels in liquids, as they may discourage heavy smokers from using the devices.
More comprehensive licensing of e-cigarettes as medical products, so they can be used by more people as a cessation aid.
Relaxation of the sometimes very strict advertising regulations for e-cigarettes in order to highlight the health benefits associated with using the devices.
Ensuring taxation reflects the relative risk of e-cigarettes compared to normal tobacco cigarettes.According to the committee, these measures could mark a major step towards social acceptance of electronic cigarettes. The committee also said that the concerns of many other politicians about the dangers for young people are relatively unfounded. For instance, the share of e-cigarette users among young people is no higher than the share of young smokers in the past. In contrast, however, the number of underage smokers is at its lowest level for many decades.

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