The SA government has recently announced a ban on the advertising of vaping products, despite their potential to significantly reduce the active and passive harm of tobacco.
Taking on the recommendations of a 2016 Select Committee, the SA government is seeking to “regulate” vaping in order to “prohibit the sale to children.” However, the decision to ban the advertising and usage of vaping in enclosed areas is throwing the baby out with the bathwater. Not only will it do little to encourage the 15.7% of South Australian adolescents to quit smoking, it will have the unintended consequence of increasing smoking among younger people.
The SA government officially states “regulations will protect the community from the potential harms of [vaping] and reduce the likelihood that children will be attracted to the devices.” This statement alone shows a fundamental misunderstanding of both vaping and nicotine that stands to be corrected.
Proven to be no more addictive or harmful than coffee, nicotine does not present the same harm in vaping devices as it does in regular cigarettes. Nicotine in vaping does not create a toxic reaction like in cigarettes because it mixes with water instead of heat. Nicotine in vaping does not accompany the number of harmful carcinogens in regular smoking like tar. Treating both devices as equally dangerous is more of a risk to public health than recognising the relative differences between them.
Treating vaping and tobacco as equally dangerous is more of a risk to public health than recognising the relative differences between them.
This is why policy makers in the United Kingdom and the United States heed the concerns of public health officials and actively encourage smokers to use vaping a means of weaning out the addiction on tobacco. Both our state and federal governments must catch up with the rest of the world if they are truly concerned about “protecting the community” in the name of public health.