Opinion Column

More research needed before allowing ‘vaping’ in public places

By Laila Yuile, City Hall

A customer puffs on an e-cigarette at the Henley Vaporium in New York City December 18, 2013. (REUTERS/Mike Segar)

A customer puffs on an e-cigarette at the Henley Vaporium in New York City December 18, 2013. (REUTERS/Mike Segar)


Columnists Laila Yuile and Brent Stafford battle over the issues of the day. The winner of the last Duel on the CBC was Brent with 54%.

This week’s topic:

Should e-cigarette ‘vaping’ be allowed in places open to the public?

Like many adults, I grew up in an era when smoking was considered as normal as having a cup of coffee. People smoked everywhere — at home, around their children, in their vehicles, at work, even in the doctor’s office. Knowing what we know now about smoking, as well as second-hand smoke, it seems insane that the habit was so widely accepted.

Today there are few places left where a smoker can enjoy their habit in peace because smoking has been prohibited in most public places, including many parks. This is just one of the many arguments supporters of e-cigarettes and vaping are using to push for public acceptance and promotion of the controversial products on a wide scale — since there is no harmful second-hand smoke, it’s not a threat to the public.

While I understand my Duel partner’s personal concerns and preferences, I have to look at this issue on a much larger and longer-term scale. The fact is there remains considerable concern over both e-cigarettes without nicotine, and those that contain it.

Read Brent Stafford's column

Last week, the United States Food and Drug Administration issued a press release that contained some concerning findings on e-cigarettes that need to be considered in this debate.

The FDA tested 18 samples of both non-nicotine and nicotine-containing e-cigarettes from two leading brands, with surprising results. They found low levels of nicotine in all but one of the non-nicotine cartridges, detectable levels of known carcinogens and toxic chemicals in others with nicotine, and the research suggested the quality-control processes in the manufacturing of these products are “inconsistent to non-existent.” This research was conducted on just two leading brands, which leads me to question what more extensive testing would reveal.

Clearly, in the case of even the non-nicotine e-cigarettes allowed to be sold here in Canada, what consumers don’t know could indeed hurt them.

I don’t think advocating for tougher regulations and bans in public places is extreme when you consider the preliminary research of the FDA. The CDC released research showing vaping use among teens in the U.S. rose between 2011 and 2012, showing growing interest in the controversial product.

Society has worked hard to marginalize smoking, and for good reason. Until extensive research can be done showing the product is indeed consistently safer than smoking, I say no to public vaping. Anything less may actually help to create new smokers, rather than cure them.

Laila Yuile is an independent writer, blogger and political commentator. You can read her blog at lailayuile.com.



Who wins this week's duel on e-cigarette smoking in public?

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