Vaping is still very new, compared to tobacco, so should we be wary about encouraging smokers to switch?
San Francisco recently became the first US city to ban sales of e-cigarettes, citing the fact that the long-term health effects of vaping are still unknown and that there seems to be an upswing in young vapers. However, some people believe this decision may turn former smokers who now vape back onto traditional tobacco products. Professor John Britton, director of the UK Centre for Tobacco & Alcohol Studies at the University of Nottingham, explains.
What do you make of San Francisco’s recent decision to ban the sales of e-cigarettes?
It’s not something that’s happening anywhere else in the world. I think the USA generally and San Francisco particularly is getting into something of a moral panic. What they have had, over the last year, is a big increase in the use of a particular product which delivers very high amounts of nicotine. It looks like a USB stick and you charge it like a USB stick. So, quite a novelty product.
And that hasn’t been a problem until last year’s data came out, because smoking prevalence rates have been falling in children in America just as they have in the UK, but the 2018 figures had a slight uptake with a big increase in vaping, and so that has been interpreted as a sign that vaping is producing a whole new generation of nicotine addicts. And on that basis they’ve banned it.
Will this prove effective?
I think it’s a gross overreaction, but the USA does have a problem in that it has never endorsed the use of electronic cigarettes as a way of quitting smoking in the way that we have in the UK, and it has never prohibited advertising [e-cigarettes] to children, and the brand in question has been advertised strongly on social media to young people.
Jason Goodyear – Science Focus – July 29, 2019.