There has been a lot of debate lately as vaping should be categorized as a harm reduction device ie, a better alternative to traditional cigarettes. However, within the United States this has been the approach of choice for most legislatures from local to the federal government. Does that turn a blind eye to public health?
If we clarify vaping as something that can reduce harm it would be rooted within the arena of public health and human rights. It aims to improve the lives of people who are affected by drugs or drug policies through evidence-based programming. There are numerous drug-related harms that have health, social and economic impacts for individuals and communities. The United Kingdom and the European Union largely have accepted vaping as a harm reduction device.
Some examples of other harm reduction devices/methods include; needle distribution/recovery programs that distribute sterile needles and other harm reduction supplies, recover used needles and other supplies, and provide information and containers for their safe disposal. Additionally, laws requiring motorcyclists to wear helmets as well as bicyclists are also considered harm reduction methods. Even the very seatbelts that are mandated in countries states are considered harm reduction methods in moving vehicles.
Harm reduction works to meet those with substance use disorder “where they are,” accepting that drug use is their current reality, rather than forcing treatment or abstinence. Practitioners work with these individuals to take steps that reduce the harm caused by drug use.
It's widely established within the world that traditional cigarettes are bad and cause great harm to the individual and oftentimes those surrounded by constant smoke. Although, there are no conclusive studies to date that have proved for a long period of time, as vaping is a relatively new industry, scientists haven't been able to provide to case that vaping truly is a harm reduction method. Even though, many who were long time smokers have switched to vaping and enjoy the "perceived" benefits many legislators don't buy it within the United States. This is something they'll regret later? This isn't the first time the United States has gotten public health calls wrong (the public epidemic of childhood obesity, is one thing that comes to mind).
As legislatures move forward we'll continue to see many changes within the industry. We need to continue to engage our local representatives to have our voices heard as laws continue to limit choices to customers (including an all out vaping ban in San Francisco).
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