Even if you don’t smoke yourself, you know what it’s like if you’ve been in a public or private place with someone who is smoking. As someone who’s sensitive to secondhand smoke, I must say that at least in this instance, e-cigarettes have a leg up on actual tobacco. I don’t intend to start vaping myself, but being in an enclosed space with someone who does is preferable to regular secondhand smoke.
Or is it?
For those who don’t know, an e-cigarette or vaporizer is a small device in which a sometimes-flavored chemical liquid is added, and then dissolved into a water vapor for the user to inhale. It’s advertised as a cheaper and safer way to get your fix without the dangers of regular tobacco products.
Funny, because as recently as within the last five years, I seem to remember vaping being pushed as a way to help people quit their smoking habit, not as a way to replace it. Or at least the people I knew who vaped seemed to do so to wean themselves off their nicotine addiction, not just satisfy it in another form.
Whatever the case, it’s grown into a multibillion-dollar-a-year industry, but continuing research seems to hint that it’s not as safe as advertised. While health organizations even admit more research on the topic is needed, there's evidence that the chemicals in vapor are harmful. And I might be wrong: though it's not noticeable like secondhand smoke, secondhand vaping might still be putting chemicals in the air for others to inhale. “Less harmful than tobacco” doesn’t mean it’s completely harmless.
Three states have public vaping bans, as do a handful of communities nationwide, though the trend is probably just beginning. Indiana’s smoking ban enacted in 2012 represents, I think, a pretty good model for regulation.
Unlike several states which banned smoking in all public places and businesses, Indiana exempted gambling establishments, tobacco sellers and smoking lounges, private clubs, and bars that only allow customers over 21. It also allowed for towns and counties to legislate and enforce their own regulations, which many do (Crown Point is one such town in Northwest Indiana, though local ordinances are relatively scarce in the Region).
I like any smoking ban for the selfish reason that it’s more pleasant when an establishment isn’t filled with smoke, but I think Indiana’s terms are fair. It keeps public places and places where there might be kids free of smoking, while allowing adults the choice of whether or not to do so, or if they want to frequent places which allow it.
Those terms will be just as fair when the wave of vaping bans comes about (and it will).