Who is misinforming Melbourne City Council on vaping?
Posted on March 14, 2020
THE PLAN by Melbourne City Council to extend its ban on vaping in the central business district is based on fear and misinformation, not on scientific evidence, and will do more harm than good.
[UPDATE. The Council has postponed the vote on this motion due to the urgency of the COVID19 pandemic]
The Councillors appear to have been been misled by organisations with an anti-vaping agenda and will be voting for this motion on Tuesday 17 March 2020. Although vaping is currently banned in smoke-free areas, “vaping bans don’t apply due to a legal technicality”.
Banning vaping in smoke-free areas sends a message that vaping is as harmful as smoking and will discourage smokers from switching to vaping. Allowing vapers to vape discretely in smoke-free areas provides an added incentive for smokers who cannot quit to switch to a much safer option, as recommended by the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners.
There is no reasonable case for banning vaping on health grounds as there is no evidence of risk from passive vaping.
According to the report by Public Health England 2018 “to date there have been no identified health risks of passive vaping to bystanders”.
The Royal College of Physicians 2016 agrees “There is, so far, no direct evidence that such passive exposure is likely to cause significant harm”.
Based on the available evidence, the Council has no justification to ban vaping on health grounds. It also has no moral authority for other reasons. According to the "harm principle"
“The only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others."
Vaping should be restricted on convenience or amenity grounds. Good etiquette would mean vapers would not blow large clouds around others without permission. However, like farting in public or strong body odour, official bans and fines are not appropriate.
Councillors have cited false information to argue for the ban.
“E-cigarettes are relatively new but we know that there is a possible link to serious lung disease”
WRONG. We now know that almost all (if not all) cases in the outbreak of lung injury in the US were caused by blackmarket THC or cannabis oils contaminated with Vitamin E Acetate purchased from street dealers. Not a single case has been linked to nicotine vaping.
e-cigarettes were often marketed as a way to help smokers to quit. "But health experts agree that there simply isn’t the evidence to support these claims"
WRONG. Studies have shown that vaping is more effective than nicotine replacement gums and patches, probably at least twice as effective. Vaping is the most popular quitting aid globally so it is reaching many smokers who otherwise might not quit. In countries where it is widely available such as UK and US, it is increasing quit rates and population smoking rates are falling faster than ever.
“Growing evidence that e-cigarettes can lead young people to start smoking regular cigarettes”
WRONG, in spite of the alarmist headlines. Although vaping among non-smoking teens is associated with later smoking, there is no evidence to indicate that vaping CAUSES smoking to any significant degree. It is more likely that vaping is diverting young people from smoking. Youth smoking rates are declining rapidly in the UK and US where vaping is widely available. Smoking precedes vaping in the great majority of cases and most vaping by young people is experimental.
"banning vaping in smoke-free areas would send a clear message that it wasn’t a better option to smoking"
WRONG. Vaping IS a far better option than smoking. Vaping is at least 95% safer than smoking and is an effective quitting aid. Smoking kills up to 2 in 3 long-term users. There has not been a single death from vaping. Vaping is also about 90% cheaper than smoking.
The Councillors need to hear both sides of the vaping story and consider the unintended consequences of their actions. ATHRA is happy to provide assistance if asked.
Posted by Colin Mendelsohn, firstname.lastname@example.org