There’s a lion enclosure at your local zoo. The lions have a well-documented history of attacking people on sight. The lions have not yet been fed that day. Given the data at hand, deciding to jump into that enclosure would be pretty stupid, wouldn’t it?
Say there’s a different lion enclosure at another zoo. The lions are new to captivity. There’s no data regarding their reactions to humans. They’ve been fed.
Which enclosure would it be safer to jump into?
The second, obviously. The lions have at least been fed, so a human leaping in doesn’t look like a magically appearing meal. There’s no proof they’ve attacked before, so there’s at least a chance they won’t attack now. But is it safe to jump into that enclosure?
The answer, of course, is an emphatic no. Just because an activity is safer than, it doesn’t make it safe, especially when the data needed to make that decision is incomplete.
Vaping: Safer Than
Vaping delivers a nicotine fix without the tobacco, sating an addiction without the known carcinogenic and other medical dangers of tobacco. As such, it’s touted as a safe, satisfying alternative to smoking. It’s marketed as a fun hobby and an effective way to quit smoking cigarettes. Fact: neither of those marketing claims is facts.
Not enough studies and tests have been completed to support sweeping statements regarding the safety of e-cigarettes and vaping. There is no conclusive evidence that these alternatives are effective tools for kicking a tobacco habit.
Where’s the Data?
Over the last decade, the e-cigarette and vaping industry have exploded, resulting in a largely unregulated $3 billion global industry.
The data has, simply put, not had the time to catch up to the market. Policymakers and lawmakers are struggling to decide if and how to regulate e-cigarette use. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA), World Health Organization (WHO), and other guardian entities of health and public safety are scrambling to find the footholds they need to even begin studying the effects of vaping on the human body.
In other words, there isn’t enough data to show that vaping is a definite health threat, but there also isn’t enough data to prove that it’s safe.
Emerging Health Concerns
A lack of definitive answers does not equal a complete lack of data or concerns.
Health organizations like the American Lung Association are beginning to compile and investigate a growing list of concerns including, but not limited to:
- Manufacturers have not revealed the chemicals used in their products
- Early tests have already found significant cancer-causing chemicals
- A child has already died from accidentally ingesting liquid nicotine from e-cigarettes
- Preliminary studies also raise concerns over the risks of secondhand emissions
Thanks to diligent research and effective communication, the population of cigarette smokers in the United States has dropped to between 12 and 28%, depending on the state.
But while Big Tobacco’s control and influence are waning in traditional cigarette sales, they are starting to make up for it through vaping. In the case of youth sales, vaping has allowed them easy, unchecked access to a new market.
As of 2013, “over a quarter of a million youth who had never smoked a cigarette used e-cigarettes.” That’s triple the amount from 2011. Imagine what that figure would be today.
Between flavoring options and marketing, it is clear that the vaping industry is taking advantage of the lack of oversight and regulations to create an addicted consumer base among youth and children.
Whether it’s Big Tobacco at the helm or new vaping manufacturers, the end-goal is clear: profit. If the decades of runarounds, cover-ups, and deceptions from the tobacco industry have proven anything, it’s that the manufacturer of the goods has no incentive to reveal the dangers and risks their goods pose to consumer health and safety.
Does that sound too cynical to be true? For some light reading, read WHO’s information revealing just how much the tobacco industry was willing to lie, deny, and cover up in the name of profit.
With vaping profits on the rise, consumers need to ask: why should we believe an addiction-for-profit based industry’s word now?
Why Is Vaping as Dumb as Smoking?
It’s like jumping into that second den of lions because the lions told you: “Come on in – I already ate.”
Jennifer Landis is a tea-drinking, yoga loving, clean eating blogger, writer, wife, and mother. You can find more from Jennifer at her blog, Mindfulness Mama.