Fear leading to bans on vaping products could kill smokers

By Gary Wood

Source: The Nolan Chart

Fear is a very powerful motivator.  It is an emotion strong enough to be used against people throughout history.  When people in a society fear something in large enough numbers regulations and laws are a tool turned to for subsiding the fear being experienced.  Being protected by laws and law enforcement tends to calm community fears.  At the same time if the fear is not shared by all members of the community those that are not afraid see the laws being enacted as unnecessary, over bearing, and as a threat to personal liberty.

The enemy is fear.  We think it is hate, but it is fear.” Gandhi

As a noun fear is defined as “a distressing emotion aroused by impending danger, evil, pain, etc., whether the threat is real or imagined; the feeling or condition of being afraid.”  Key in the emotion of fear is that it motivates whether the threat is real or imagined.  The word itself is often discussed as an acronym that stands for False Evidence Appearing Real.  In his 1966 book, The Power of Your Mind, Dr. O. Irving Jacobsen explained fear is one of the four main categories of human emotion; the other three being rage, love and hate. He writes, “It is quite generally agreed that your fears are mostly acquired, with perhaps the exception of the fears of falling and sudden loud sounds.”

The general public has developed a fear of smoking, whether exposure to the cigarette smoke is first hand or second hand.  These fears are rooted in decades of real evidence and science showing how the tar and carcinogens in burning tobacco lead to devastating illnesses and possibly death.  Parents, even those hooked on cigarettes, do not want their children to smoke.  Smokers who quit know the returning health benefits can be quickly taken away if they start smoking again.

Combined with the anti-smoking campaigns and the medical community, big tobacco is even paying out billions in settlement costs annually in every state in the United States, further attesting to the reality smoking is dangerous.  A portion of this settlement is reinvested by the states to fund public awareness and assistance to help people stop smoking and for enforcing laws to keep cigarettes out of the hands of minors.

Key to today’s misconception and fear from vaping is the tie to nicotine.  Many confuse nicotine with both the major addiction source and main toxic item in burning tobacco that is elevating risks of heart disease, cancer, strokes, and more.  Rather than discuss tars and carcinogens or the molecular structure of tobacco (that adds to nicotine an addictive quality not found in other forms of nicotine) it is easier to simply point to nicotine as the bad apple spoiling the bunch.  Common in testimony against vaping is this misconception about nicotine.

Ironically, as lawmakers are cracking down on the use of vaping products with this as their main excuse medical scientists are finding many benefits of nicotine for battling Alzheimer and Parkinson’s disease, high blood pressure, (also top killers in the United States), depression, ADHD, and even addiction to other drugs.  Dr. Paul Newhouse, the director of Vanderbilt University’s Center for Cognitive Medicine, “It seems very safe even in nonsmokers. In our studies we find it actually reduces blood pressure chronically. And there were no addiction or withdrawal problems, and nobody started smoking cigarettes. The risk of addiction to nicotine alone is virtually nil.”  He further states, “Nicotine by itself isn’t very addictive at all… [it] seems to require assistance from other substances found in tobacco to get people hooked.”  Take out the tobacco connection and science is proving the addictive nature is removed.  Beyond the addictive quality being removed, nicotine is being seen as a potential life saver for many.  Old fears block this knowledge from reaching the public clamoring to lock vaping products forever with the infamous burning tobacco that is the real culprit.  Treating them the same does not make logical sense but emotional reactions based on fear often are not logical.

Another fear current vaping laws are based on is the emotional argument these new devices, due to possibly having nicotine in the e-liquid being vaped, will lead people to smoke, especially young people.  In his article, Lawmakers eye vaping ban, (about the proposed bans being considered in Oregon) Saul Hubbard writes, “Proponents say the indoor ban is a preventative measure. They argue that e-cigarettes can act as a gateway to traditional cigarettes, particularly among young people.”  This fear is an emotional argument repeated across the country from Oregon and Texas through Illinois and the Northeast.  Reality is proving modern vaping products actually are a gateway from smoking, leading people away from the dangerous conventional cigarettes.  But fear is rarely combatted with reality unless the person experiences reality first hand in overcoming their fear.

Consider the picture of a young child standing at the edge of the pool and their mom or dad encouraging them and telling them it is okay, jump.  Until that child jumps, and does so successfully into those secure arms, the fear will not go away.  The same goes for public speaking, a fear most have.  Speaking in public is not, in and of itself, harmful and people do not suddenly melt into the stage they are speaking on once they begin to talk.  People even see and admire successful speakers but until they can deliver a successful speech the personal fear will persist and can drive someone away from what could be a lucrative career skill.  This is why people who are breathing better and living better due to vaping are not afraid of their children or grandchildren getting ‘hooked’ or beginning to smoke merely by being exposed to vaping.  They know reality and are living healthier lives thanks to that knowledge.

Among Mark Cuban’s 12 Rules to Success fear is listed as number five, don’t let fear be a roadblock.  When it comes to vaping restrictions and laws that are based on emotional fears it is smokers that can be blocked by anti-smokers fears.  As vaping products are increasingly misclassified as tobacco products and conventional cigarettes those smokers looking for a gateway to help them escape may well believe vaping products do not represent that gateway.

Why would lawmakers and anti-smoking advocates classify them the same if the products can help restore health while helping people avoid ever smoking to begin with?  People visually see a vaper inhale and exhale what appears to be smoke.  This appearance of smoke sets off known, emotional reactions and emotions are energy for survival and action.  It does not matter if the fear is real.  It does not matter if the exhale is a water vapor without undetectable amounts of harmful substances for bystanders.  Facts to overcome the fear of cigarettes will be very slow to gain acceptance with the general public who do not experience vaping first hand.  Laws will continue to be passed that should not be and smokers who may have potentially found their way back to health through vaping will be denied the opportunity.  Even if a doctor in a hospital wants his patient, suffering from Parkinson’s disease or recovering from cancer treatments, to vape instead of smoke over regulation may prevent it.

So, what laws do make sense for vaping products?  More on that next time…

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