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JONESIE: Take your stinking paws off my damn dirty vape!

October 18, 2019 - 7:30 AM

 


OPINION


First they came for the smokers, and of course I spoke out because I was a smoker.

Then they came for the distracted drivers and I spoke out because I knew what was coming.

Well now the Do-Gooder Brigade is coming for my vape and it could be a literal disaster if they win.

I know 'boo hoo, cry me a river for my man-soother and pass me the next first-world problem.'

But if that’s your attitude, you’re not seeing the forest through the cloud of Cinnamon Apple Pie Premium E-Juice Blends ™.

This is about inevitable over-reaction.

More specifically, it’s about the lack of any intelligent moderation whenever the hair-on-fire crowd starts banging the drums for the latest moral panic.

I guess to the credit of his instincts as a politician (ahem) MLA Todd Stone in Kamloops was first to identify a new undefendable enemy of the people. Well, him and Donald Trump, I guess. Long before any actual health concerns were raised, Stone was handing out torches and pitchforks to get political points by pushing the provincial government to take action on vapes. 

He’s doing a victory lap this week after news of actual harm being caused by vapes, praising himself for 'seeing this coming’ and warning that the time for ‘handwringing’ over vaping is over.

If you haven’t heard, the Centres for Disease Control has identified some 1,300 cases in the U.S. of a mysterious lung illness in patients who used vapes. A small number have also been identified in Canada including one confirmed case in B.C.

As of Oct. 8, the CDC says 26 people have died. The problem is widespread; not confined to a single area.

There are two prevailing medical theories. One involves the use of untested and unregulated agents (vitamin E acetate) added to illicit THC distillates to achieve a required consistency. The other theory is of an unknown chemical contaminant in some vape juices.

It’s certainly cause for concern, but so far the CDC admits it doesn’t yet have answers.

Its recommendation?

"CDC continues to recommend that people consider refraining from using e-cigarette, or vaping, products that contain nicotine.”

Note the less than forceful language there? That’s probably because, even though it’s not recommended as a method to quit smoking, vapes have helped thousands (hundreds of thousands? Millions?) of people get off cancer sticks for good.

One addiction researcher and tobacco specialist in the U.S. said vapes were responsible for “potentially the single biggest improvement in public health in the United States” and that pushing them out risks “a public health disaster in which cigarettes continue to be the dominant nicotine product.”

Health Canada is still largely undecided about vapes, beyond standard warnings about nicotine poisoning and addiction.

If you are a smoker, vaping is a less harmful option than smoking,” it says.

I key on that part, because as I disclosed off the top, I’ve been an off-and-on smoker for years.

But not since I replaced it with a largely harmless vape. That’s true of nearly every other vape user I know. They have literally been life-changers and life-savers.

No one has reliable statistics on how many people have switched to vapes, but the number of smokers has decreased significantly over time and as vaping has increased in popularity. University of Waterloo statistics, backed by similar statistics from Stats Canada, shows smokers have dropped from 25.2 per cent of the population in 1999 to 15.1 per cent in 2017.

Those facts are conveniently over-looked and outplayed by do-gooders like Stone and the Central Okanagan school district who use the ‘won’t-someone-please-think-of-the-children’ card.

They are legitimately worried about kids being introduced to nicotine through vapes because they are prevalent on any school campus. Fair enough. Any argument about the usefulness of vapes begins and ends with ‘previous smokers’ and that doesn’t apply to teens.

But the call for tighter regulations like eliminating flavoured vapes is the kind of classic over-reaction that explains why we can't have a glass of wine on the beach, creates hefty fines for storing your phone in the cupholder of your car, for the elimination of photo radar and yes — ridiculous and punitive taxes and penalties for smokers. 

There are better ways to keep vapes from kids, like only allowing vape stores to sell them. That helps ensure only regulated products are sold. You have to be 19 to enter a vape store — that's a reasonable regulation — so banning flavours they can’t even see seems ridiculous. Yet the province also allows vapes to be sold alongside cigarettes in gas stations with flavours on full display. How about starting there?

I also have a strong suspicion these vaping illnesses won’t be easy to pin down. My guess is the rumours I have been hearing for years of people making their own vape juices or ordering products off the internet from who knows where are true.

And if they start banning vapes or even flavours, that just happens to also be exactly where people will turn.

I’m on board for changes to make them harder for kids to get so long as they make sense.

I don't really care about my stupid vape, I could drop it tomorrow, it's done its job and I recommend it to anyone trying to quit smoking.

But that's my choice. 

Till then, take your stinking paws off my damn dirty vape.

— Marshall Jones is the editor of iNFOnews.ca

 

News from © iNFOnews, 2019
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