By Rebekah Devorak | Opinions Editor
For anyone who is tired of wading through vape smoke at concerts and sports game, you can add a tally to the win column.
On March 7, the Allegheny County City Council voted to ban e-cigarettes, the popular mechanism used for vaping, at all places where regular cigarettes are currently banned. According to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, this includes indoor workplaces, sports stadiums, schools, restaurants, theaters, public transportation stations and more. The ruling was 8-5 in favor of the ban.
The city council’s decision, detailed in Article XXII, defines an e-cigarette as “any electronic oral device … which provides a vapor of nicotine or any other substances and the use of inhalation of which simulates smoking.”
While Allegheny County is only the second county in Pennsylvania to make this decision, the rest of the state – and the country – should follow suit. Just like no one wants a face full of cigarette smoke from a puffing stranger while they’re walking through the mall, no one also wants a cloud of tutti-frutti vapor hanging over their heads while they’re out to dinner. Sure, it might smell better, but it doesn’t make it any less invasive, dangerous or annoying.
Vaping has grown in considerable popularity over the past five years. According to a 2015 poll conducted by Reuters, one in 10 Americans said that they regularly vaped. This figure was used to estimate that roughly 10 percent of the general United States population and 15 percent of the population under the age of 40 uses e-cigarettes or other variations. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released information in 2015 which approximated e-cigarette use for nearly nine million adults.
Market researchers estimate that the e-cigarette industry will explode to over $50 billion by 2025, with a yearly growth rate averaging around 23 percent.
While popular belief might state otherwise, vaping is not necessarily safer than smoking. According to the American Lung Association, e-cigarettes contain nicotine, even if the liquids used for vaping claim that they do not. They are also unregulated by the FDA, and many contain harmful chemicals, including agents found in antifreeze and even formaldehyde. The secondhand smoke from these e-cigarettes contains carcinogens.
Despite the obvious health risks, vaping still remains all-the-rage for several reasons. For starters, opting for a vape pen and flavored vapors is considerably less expensive than the traditional route. The Quit Smoking Movement states that smokers spend around $2,250 annually on purchasing cigarettes, whereas e-liquids could cost as low as $1,100 yearly.
Most also consider the use of e-cigarettes to be somewhat safer than smoking normal cigarettes, and many view it as a means to quitting regular tobacco. The same 2015 Reuters poll also revealed that 80 percent of those surveyed believe vaping to be a “good way to help people quit smoking.” However, 75 percent of those polled who said they vape regularly, also said they still continue to use normal tobacco products, such as traditional cigarettes.
This ban on using e-cigarettes where regular cigarettes are prohibited will also hopefully quell the number of youths partaking in the trendy-but-hazardous activity, especially since they are now forbidden in schools. In a separate 2015 study by the CDC, over three million middle school and high school aged children actively vaped. The figure for high schoolers rose dramatically, from just 1.5 percent in 2011 to 16 percent in 2015.
Not only are those statistics scary given the health implications of vaping on adults let alone children, but it’s also illegal in most states for anyone under the age of 18 to purchase an e-cigarette. In California, anyone wanting to do so must be 21.
E-cigarettes and their countless counterparts are essentially just cancer sticks like regular cigarettes, only they’re marketed to be fun and fruit-flavored. Allegheny County’s decision to ban them at indoor public spaces is the perfect move in the right direction to help decrease their popularity.