Vapers VS Electronic Cigarette Bans: What Should We Do?
There’s a worrying trend of including electronic cigarettes in smoking bans right now. In the USA New York has just pushed through a law that includes vaping with smoking, and it’s spreading in the UK too. Pub chain JD Wetherspoons have brought in a blanket ban, several train companies class e-cigs as tobacco and now NHS facilities are getting in on the act. It’s hard to understand exactly why this is happening, because there’s no evidence that secondhand vapour does any harm at all and in fact plenty to suggest that it’s perfectly safe.
Why are these bans being brought in and how are they being justified?
One of the most common reasons given is that staff can’t tell vaping from smoking, so people could claim they were using an e-cig to get round the actual smoking ban. This doesn’t really stand up. It might be possible to mistake a cigalike for a cigarette from a distance, but not an eGo or any type of mod. There’s also the fact that cigarette smoke hangs around for a long time and has a very distinctive smell, whereas vapour disperses almost instantly and has very little smell.
Another excuse often given for a ban is the old standby, “We don’t know what’s in them.” Obviously this isn’t true, because anybody who’s done any research at all on e-cigarettes knows exactly what’s in them – propylene glycol, vegetable glycerine, nicotine and flavours. Anyone who hasn’t done any research shouldn’t be banning things they know nothing about! All the ingredients have been thoroughly tested and used for years without problems, so this is really a non-issue.
The last and most insidious argument is that vaping “renormalizes smoking.” Some health professionals are now claiming that the purpose of the smoking ban was to “denormalise” it, which sounds an awful lot like some sinister Cold War brainwashing technique. That does raise the question of why, when the ban was brought in, the same health professionals claimed it was about the risks of secondhand smoke. They were lying then or they’re lying now, but either way it doesn’t say much for their honesty.
So what should we do, as vapers, about these bans?
It’s important to remember that any business has the right to allow – or ban – what they like on their own premises. If a pub won’t let you vape, you can’t make them change your mind. Of course they can’t make you drink there, either, so if you have the option go to a different pub. Make sure to tell them why you’re leaving. For larger organisations like the NHS and rail operators it’s a bit more difficult. The best idea is to write to their public relations department to complain, and get every other vaper you can to do the same. Keep your letter polite and reasonable; ask why they’ve introduced the ban and, if they tell you, write again to explain why they’re wrong. Let them know the harm they’re doing and ask them to rethink.
The best thing you can do, of course, is try to win over businesses to our side. Before vaping anywhere ask if it’s okay to do so. If the staff have any questions answer them; explain what vaping is all about, how safe it is and how much evidence there is that the vapour creates no risk. With the economy the way it is, most small businesses will be happy to keep any customers they can – especially if it has obvious rewards. If a pub is vape-friendly consider organising vapemeets there; when they see it’s bringing in more business they’ll start to think of it as a good thing. Beating the bans is all about getting people on our side, and we can all play a part.
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