Vaping has ingrained itself into college culture. We see college students carrying their Juul pods and vaping on the Brickyard, outside of Talley and even in the library. The National College Health Assessment reports that almost 13% of college students vape. However, this could all change very soon.
Recently, the Trump Administration has announced that it is considering banning the sale of flavored e-cigarettes, with this decision receiving bipartisan support. In fact, New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, a Democrat, is using an emergency order to ban flavored e-cigarettes, following the example of Michigan. It’s more than possible that an executive order will prohibit retailers from selling vape-related products sometime soon.
I have expressed my disdain for vaping in the past, but banning e-cigarettes could cause more harm than good. Due to the circumstances surrounding the correlation between vaping and lung disease, as well as the potential health risks from banning e-cigarettes, it's important not to ban the sale of vape products at the state or federal level.
The calls for these bans come as a response to six people dying from a lung-related disease linked to vaping. Although the FDA cannot determine what's causing these diseases, they discovered that most patients who suffered from these illnesses had traces of THC oils in them, which are commonly found in marijuana products.
The FDA and the CDC speculated that the vitamin E acetate found in these THC oils may be the culprit. While there are no known adverse effects of ingesting vitamin E acetate or applying it to the skin, the compound has recently become the focus of FDA and CDC investigation. Researchers hypothesize that vitamin E acetate returns to its oil state after being vaped, causing these lung-related illnesses.
Banning flavored e-cigarettes or vape pods won’t solve this lung disease problem though. Most of the pods containing THC may have been bought off the streets and unlicensed stores. Outlawing the sale of normal e-cigarettes wouldn't address this, as law-abiding stores do not sell vape products containing THC oil. This could cause people to buy unofficial vape products off the streets, increasing their risk of suffering from a lung-related illness.
It is no secret cigarettes can cause serious illnesses such as heart disease, emphysema, and other serious conditions. And part of the appeal of e-cigarettes is they are seen as the safer alternative to smoking regular cigarettes.
Around 40% of people who vape also use tobacco products. By banning e-cigarettes, more people could start to smoke cigarettes, allowing the tobacco industry to profit off people’s addiction to nicotine and deteriorating health.
Finally, prohibition has been historically proven not to work. Take for example when the United States banned alcohol. Not only did people continue to drink alcohol during prohibition, but it also endangered the population to certain diseases such as cirrhosis from drinking homebrewed alcohol.
Likewise, in this case, more people could find illegitimate ways to get their favorite flavored juice pod. And as previously mentioned, most of these lung illnesses from vaping were caused by people buying juice pods off the street. By banning e-cigarettes, it will just put more people at risk for lung-related illnesses.
If there is one good thing to come from this whole ordeal, it has caused people to have skepticism on how healthy it is to vape. While most of these illnesses were caused by counterfeit vape products, it does challenge the notion that vaping is safe. There simply aren’t many studies that show the long-term risk of using e-cigarettes, and this whole situation shows how little we really know about the effects of the product. In the meantime, there is no need for a counterproductive ban.