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To vape or not to vape? Yes - It's a safer alternative
To vape or not to vape?
Yes - It's a safer alternative

BY DUNCAN HUNTER / The San Diego Union-Tribune
JULY 7, 2017

[Image: huntervaping_feature_feature.jpg]
Rep. Duncan Hunter vapes during a Feb. 2016 meeting of the House Committee on Transportation & Infrastructure. He was arguing against a ban on e-cigarettes on airlines.

Anyone who smokes cigarettes knows how difficult it can be to quit the habit. Most smokers know they should
stop and many convince themselves that they can whenever they want, but often their willpower is overtaken
by the short-lived comfort that traditional tobacco provides.

This is now less the case thanks to the relatively recent introduction of smoking cessation products that are
best represented by so-called electronic cigarettes, which give smokers destined to quit an option that not
only reduces harm but offers a far safer alternative. The incorporation of electronic vapor products in the
marketplace has contributed to a reduction in tobacco use that is undeniable and through their use, more
commonly known as vaping, it’s a sure bet that even more Americans will be turning away from cigarettes.

Related: To vape or not to vape? No - Risky products lure teens

Every year, it’s estimated that cigarette smoking causes more than 480,000 deaths, including nearly 42,000
deaths associated with secondhand smoke. This coincides with an economic impact of more than $300 billion
annually when totaling direct medical care and lost productivity. The numbers are staggering.

Now electronic vapor products are helping to reduce the burden of cigarette smoking and leading Americans
to live healthier lifestyles. According to one review commissioned by Public Health England, our European
partner’s equivalent to the Department of Health and Human Services, the use of vapor products is about 95
percent less harmful than cigarette smoking.

In line with this conclusion, electronic vapor product sales in the U.S. have increased from an estimated $100
million in 2010 to $4 billion in 2016 while cigarette consumption has declined from $307 billion in 2010 to an
estimated $265 billion in 2016. Even the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention identified this trend through
a 2017 study that found more Americans who are trying to quit smoking use vapor products than any other
smoking cessation tool — some of which include nicotine patches, professional support and medications.

So why then aren’t electronic vapor products more widely accepted for their influence in harm reduction?
Often, the answer is different depending on who’s asked, but the most plausible explanation is that political
forces and anti-smoking advocates view vaping as a proxy to Big Tobacco and have undertaken a fight against
these products to deny their use and availability.

They’re wrong. Most interestingly, in their effort to cut sales and access to electronic vapor products, they’re
actually encouraging more Americans to smoke cigarettes and perpetuating the economic affects inherent with
smoking. They’re also targeting — though presumably less intentionally — the 20,000 small businesses nationwide
and more than 100,000 jobs that are tied to the sale of vapor products.

Offering undue credibility to this campaign is the nation’s current regulatory approach to these low-risk products,
which is structured for traditional tobacco items and not new technology for smoking cessation that is developing
faster than the government can currently keep pace. This development has prompted some hesitation since vaping
is somewhat of an unknown quantity to many Americans and regulators, but that same hesitation has pigeonholed
vapor products into a poor-fitting regulatory structure that considers harm-reduction devices and cigarettes as one
and the same.

This could soon change. Legislation I authored and introduced in Congress creates a new regulatory framework for
vaping products outside the scope of traditional tobacco controls. The measure also calls for the Federal Drug
Administration to finally produce study results that properly evaluate vapor technology in harm reduction — something
which the FDA has been unable to do.

My legislation will not only help save lives, that I am sure, but it will also provide a lifeline to the thousands of small
businesses and employees that rely on the opportunity to continue selling vapor products to Americans who are either
wanting to reduce their urge for cigarettes or kick the habit altogether. If there’s a drawback here, it’s for Big Tobacco
and its profit margins, and on that front the vast majority of Americans surely take no discomfort.

Ask anyone who vapes about their experience. What you’ll hear will surprise you if you don’t know already. From my
own experience, vaping has helped me reduce the desire for cigarettes, which I know something about from my time
in the Marine Corps through three combat tours.

There’s nothing good to say about smoking cigarettes, unlike vape products that actually have a real and identifiable
impact on individuals. If true that there could be some risk with vaping, even if small, the fact that vape products are
the tools of the future to stop smoking and minimize harm must be embraced. Otherwise, more Americans will continue
turning to cigarettes and accepting the consequences no matter their hope to one day quit.

Efforts to cut sales and access to electronic vapor products are actually encouraging more Americans to smoke cigarettes
and perpetuating the economic affects inherent with smoking.

Hunter, R-Alpine, represents the 50th Congressional District.
Its all politics to ban vaping. We all know vaping is better than smokes.

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