Editorial — Smoke and mirrors: Vaping v. cigarettes

Posted 10/2/19

Hats off to Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker for having the gumption to ban the sale of vaping products — a common sense step that other states and the federal government had all talked about …

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Editorial — Smoke and mirrors: Vaping v. cigarettes

Posted

Hats off to Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker for having the gumption to ban the sale of vaping products — a common sense step that other states and the federal government had all talked about but, as with lots of things, hadn’t quite gotten to.

Vaping product dealers, of course, howl that this will merely drive users to something far worse — cigarettes and other tobacco products — for their nicotine fix.

They may be right, which begs the obvious … How is it that something worse than vaping, a product proven to cause cancer, the culprit in over 480,000 deaths each year in the United States alone, is still legal?

The contrast is striking. Vaping is now a likely cause of lung damage, may be responsible for dozens of deaths, and is setting young people on course for a lifetime of addiction. That alone has been enough, and rightly so, to provoke outrage.

Cigarettes lead to nicotine addition too. And, in addition to causing lung and many other cancers, they’re a lead factor in heart disease, stroke, arthritis, diabetes, and they damage eyes, bones, gums …

Given the lengths government goes to protect individuals from harm — seat belts, helmets, life preservers, safety caps, warning labels — it defies logic that something as deadly and addictive as tobacco is still sold over the counter.

The Centers for Disease Control puts it simply: “Cigarette smoking harms nearly every organ of the body … More than 10 times as many U.S. citizens have died prematurely from cigarette smoking than have died in all the wars fought by the United States during its history.”

Cigarettes, of course, do have one big thing going for them. They are a cash machine for everyone from tobacco producers to convenience stores to states (taxes) — as well as the lawmakers who are paid off to ignore it all. Like guns, tobacco is backed by a formidable lobby (vaping is less established, still less mainstream) that causes lawmakers to go all weak-kneed.

So congratulations, Massachusetts, for being first to do the right thing.

But as long as store shelves are loaded with something even worse, this will prove a hollow victory.

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Scott Pickering

Scott Pickering has been on the East Bay Newspapers team for more than two decades, since starting as a reporter for the Sakonnet Times. He's been editor of most of the papers, was Managing Editor of all the papers for many years, and became General Manager in 2012. Today he can be found posting to EastBayRI.com, steering news coverage, writing editorials, talking to readers, working with the sales team, collaborating on design, or helping do whatever it takes to get the papers out the door. Reach him at spickering@eastbaynewspapers.com.