People who are educated on the process of vaping understand that vaping is not smoking and smoking is not vaping. While the differences between the two are obvious to those who take the time to educate themselves, the unfortunate reality is that those who choose not to educate themselves on the differences remain in positions that can impose regulations. On Sept. 14, 2015 such regulation was put through by the National Park Service, regulating vaping to not be allowed in areas designated as “no smoking areas.” While the reasoning behind the decision remains unclear, it is now required that people utilizing e-cigs and personal vaporizers be confined to the same areas as smokers of tobacco products within National Parks. Advocates for the rights of people who vape find this decision disappointing and dangerous, as we are now seeing regulation by federal agencies on the use of vaping equipment under the same guidelines as tobacco products, essentially equating them in the eyes of federal offices.
Earlier in September, a memo was distributed to all employees of the National Park Service that the use of e-cigs and personal vaporizers is prohibited within all National Parks in the United States, and the areas designated within these public spaces as “no smoking areas” should no longer allow vaping as well. There are no exceptions or riders to this decision that define vaping as a process that shares almost none of the characteristics as smoking tobacco products, and there is no distinction between vaping and smoking in the information. While smoking tobacco products within National Park areas is regulated for two reasons, one being the push to designate “smoking areas” away from public space that are frequented by non-smokers in an attempt to protect people from second-hand smoke, and the other being the concern for wildfires started by those disposing of lit cigarettes and cigars within open areas, the new regulations equating vaping and smoking do not take into consideration any of the specifics of the process. Although the two might look similar in that a person is bringing a device to their mouth and exhaling a cloud, vaping is not remotely the same process in that there is no smoke involved in vaping (eliminating the concerns about second-hand smoke) nor is there any fire (eliminating the concerns about wildfires.) Vaping is not the burning of a substance and inhalation of the smoke that is produced, but instead involves the vaporization of a liquid and the exhalation of a vapor cloud. Studies have proven that the cloud that is exhaled from a person drawing from a personal vaporizer adds no measurable particulate matter to the atmosphere over what already exists, nor is there the addition of the harmful chemicals that are within the smoke of a tobacco product. These concerns are simply unfounded, and not based in any scientific proof but instead are based upon the aspects of it “looking the same.” In addition to this, the risk of fire associated with vaping equipment is no greater than the utilization of a cell phone and the batteries that are powering the devices, yet nowhere is the mention of a regulation of cell phones within National Parks mentioned. It is a simple fact that this regulation is not backed by scientific evidence, and is instead complete speculation or dislike of the way it looks. It is not legal in America to regulate use of public spaces based upon “not liking the way someone looks.”
A large concern among the vaping community is that this regulation that has been enacted by a federal agency within the spaces it controls can lead to additional regulation from federal authorities. While regulation of the vaping process will have supporters and those who voice their dissent, the regulations that are imposed upon vaping should be based upon vaping as a unique activity and not it’s comparison to smoking. Since the two are different, then different regulations based upon the actual proven concerns should be the basis for decisions. Forcing people who use vaping as a method of quitting smoking to stay in the same areas as people who are smoking cigarettes is counter-productive to their attempts to stop, and will work against the nation-wide push to reduce tobacco use by not allowing for transitional products like vaping equipment to assist in the process without being exposed to smoking. People who are trying to quit smoking are attempting to reduce their exposure to second-hand smoke even more than those who are non-smokers, yet regulations like this one force them to maintain exposure. This is unfair.