E-cigarettes gained prominence in 2003, and they have been marketed as an alternative means of quitting smoking. The current debate is on whether e-cigarettes should be allowed or banned in public spaces. With proponents and opponents of this topic taking hard stances based on their convictions, there is a need to evaluate the current evidence and contribute to informed decision making. Vaping should not be allowed in public places because it exposes children to smoking together with being a nuisance to non-smokers and exposing people to second-hand smoke, which is a public health concern.
Allowing the smoking of e-cigarettes in public exposes children and the youth to the behavior, and this trend might have far-reaching consequences in the end. Children and youths are innocent, and they can easily be drawn to smoking out of curiosity after seeing people vape in public. According to 2018 statistics released by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), in the US, 3.62 million middle and high school students use e-cigarettes.
These numbers are staggering given that vaping is presented as a healthy way of quitting smoking. These children and youths are not vaping to quit tobacco smoking. They are doing it out of curiosity and influence from exposure to the trend through public smoking. In another study, it was established that between 2017 and 2018, there has been an unprecedented increase of e-cigarette usage by 78 percent among high school students, which means 20.8 percent of the total high school population is affected by this public health issue (Cullen et al. 1276).
Interestingly, 81 percent of the interviewed students noted that they resort to e-cigarette smoking due to the availability of appealing flavors. These students learn about the availability of the different flavors by smelling it from people smoking publicly. Besides, e-cigarettes have been shown to have negative health implications for both users and non-users. In a comprehensive study by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, it was concluded that the amount of nicotine from e-cigarettes is comparable to that of tobacco cigarettes (2).
Additionally, the study revealed that e-cigarettes emit a wide array of potentially harmful substances. Similarly, the study concluded youths using e-cigarettes are highly likely to become tobacco smokers later in their lives. As such, vaping should be banned in public areas to avoid exposure to youths and other non-users.
While the evidence as to why vaping should be banned in public is compelling, the practice is associated with positive outcomes among people trying to quit smoking. E-cigarettes are designed to deliver nicotine and simulate a tobacco smoking experience. As such, users cut their reliance on tobacco smoking, and they ultimately quit smoking. These arguments are compelling given that quitting tobacco smoking for those with dependence habits is one of the hardest accomplishments among drug users.
The claim that e-cigarettes play a significant role in helping tobacco smokers quit the habit is befitting. However, vaping does not necessarily need to be done in public. E-cigarettes could be taken as therapeutic drugs in private. The statistics released by the FDA on the usage of e-cigarettes by high school students are worrying. Smoke flowing through both nostrils to engulf one’s face looks appealing, and this aspect may attract school going children to experiment and experience how it feels. The danger of this trend is long-term. According to the report released by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, such students are likely to become tobacco smokers in the future (2).
Therefore, it appears that e-cigarettes are helping smokers quit the habit while creating the same problem among young people. Besides, The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine report indicated several negative health implications associated with vaping to non-users (2).
Therefore, non-users should not be exposed to health risks in the name of helping smokers to quit their habit. For instance, it was established that the smoke released has potential toxic materials, which can affect endothelial cell function and the functionality of the brain together with causing DNA damage and tissue injury (The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine 2). Vaping in public spaces creates a vicious cycle of addressing one problem while causing it at the same time. As such, vaping should be banned from public spaces.
Vaping in public has been a controversial issue since the emergence of e-cigarettes in 2003. The available evidence shows that vaping exposes youth and children to the habit and given their innocence, curiosity, and gullibility, they are drawn the usage of e-cigarettes. However, the majority of these children will become tobacco smokers in the future, thus creating more problems. The proponents of vaping in public areas argue that it helps people overcome their smoking habits. However, the dangers of vaping in public outweigh its benefits. Besides, as a therapy, vaping can be done in private or designated areas. As such, smoking e-cigarettes should be banned in public. However, the relevant authorities should create policies on how vaping could be used to help tobacco smokers overcome their tobacco dependence.
Cullen, Karen, et al. “Notes from the Field: Increase in Use of Electronic Cigarettes and any Tobacco Product among Middle and High School Students – United States, 2011–2018. MMWR Morbid Mortal Weekly Report, vol. 67, no. 45, 2018, 1276-1277.
The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine. Public Health Consequences of E-Cigarettes Conclusions by Level of Evidence, 2018. Web.