Vaping, otherwise known as the use of e-cigarettes, has become increasingly popular in recent years. Proponents of e-cigarettes, including the Consumer Advocates for Smoke-free Alternatives Association, argue that e-cigarettes aid in the decline in use of traditional cigarettes and even help users quit.
Because e-cigarettes rely on water vapor instead of smoke, they decrease the dangers of second-hand smoke in public environments. In addition, settings can be adjusted in e-cigarettes so that little to no nicotine is present, allowing smokers to decrease intakes of nicotine slowly with e-cigarettes. Overall, the vapor and reduced nicotine factors of e-cigarettes make them safer than traditional cigarettes.
However, a bill introduced to the Montgomery County Council in late November may change the use of e-cigarettes in Montgomery County. First proposed by Councilmember Nancy Floreen, the bill includes a ban on the use of e-cigarettes in public places that already outlaw traditional cigarettes along with restrictions on the sales of e-cigarettes.
As of now, the e-cigarette industry is steadily increasing – almost to the level of tobacco products – and, unfortunately, with this high demand, use of e-cigarettes among tweens and teens has doubled as well. Because e-cigarettes release vapor instead of smoke and leave no smell, it is easier for kids to conceal their use of these products from parents or guardians.
The increase in use of e-cigarettes is partly because of the assumption that it is healthier than other tobacco options. However, this may not be true. No reliable studies have been conducted on the use of e-cigarettes and their production regulations are rather broad. So far, there are no regulations on the sale, manufacturing, or distribution of electronic nicotine delivery systems (e-cigarettes) in the U.S.
Because of facts like these, parents and teachers in the county are worried for the kids currently using the product. As math teacher Laura Goetz said, “given that information, my first instinct is to say, yes, ban them. For the same reason, as a parent, I didn’t let my kids have candy cigarettes. I know that may seem silly, but I just don’t even want that motion or concept as something I do or something when I’m grown up I will do more of, and I think, in general, it is not a habit that I would like to perpetuate. And not banning it indicates approval or, ‘Go ahead, it’s OK.’”
Councilmember Nancy Floreen agrees with these parents and teachers, saying in an interview with WTOP Washington News that “speaking as someone whose cousin died last year of throat cancer, which I think was brought on by 40 to 50 years of smoking starting when she was a teenager, this is how you start smoking.”
The Montgomery County Council has announced a hearing on the proposed ban to be held on January 22 at 7:30 p.m. at the Montgomery County Council building in Rockville.
Article by MoCo Student staff writer Isabelle Zhou
Graphic by MoCo Student staff artist Valencia Fu