Last month in May, lawmakers in Austin voted unanimously to put forward a proposal that would add e-cigarettes to the list of tobacco products that are banned in public spaces such as parks, restaurants and bars. On Thursday, the council will cast its final vote pertaining to any ordinance changes.
Many public health experts in the US and internationally have been pointing out that placing e-cigarettes and their combustible counterparts on the same shelf will be detrimental to public health as it sends the wrong message. Several studies have been indicating that e-cigarettes are significantly safer than regular cigarettes and also much less addictive, hence their potential as effective smoking cessation tools.
Additionally, data has been consistently showing that both smoking and vaping are on the decline. This suggests that the old repeated arguments claiming that vaping is acting as a gateway to smoking, are unfound.
“The current laws and regulations are working,” said Charlie Hodge, president of the Texas E-cigarette and Vaping Association. “It seems weird to mess with something when it still comes down to judging a book by its cover.”
Misinformation that is informing policy
Central Texas governments, including Travis County, Williamson County, San Marcos and Georgetown, have already included e-cigarettes in their smoking bans in what is a clear example of the dangers of the misinformation surrounding the products that is in circulation. Across the ocean in Europe, Sweden and the UK, have adopted a difference stance and chose the ‘harm reduction’ route. This resulted in these countries boasting the lowest smoking rates in Europe.