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Donald Trump’s panic about vaping is a massive distraction from guns and politics

It hardly bears repeating that even if it is proved that vaping was the main cause of the six deaths, guns kill many times that number in the US every day

James Moore
Saturday 14 September 2019 15:34 BST
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Trump says he plans to ban flavoured e-cigarettes: 'People are dying with vaping'

Wake up America! Vaping’s coming after your youth.

So says Donald Trump, whose wife Melania is passionate about the issue.

“She’s got a son… together… that is a beautiful young man and she feels very strongly about it.”

Trump is many ways a scary, scary man. What he says is often more frightening than finding a huge tropical spider hiding in the bunch of bananas you’ve just put in the fruit bowl. This is a man who, after all, actually suggested nuking a hurricane.

On the other hand, Netflix pays millions of dollars to comedians to put on comedy specials that struggle to come enough close to the sort of belly laughs the Donald can induce within seconds of opening his mouth. Dude, that’s your son too!

But do he and Melania have a point? Should we be as concerned on behalf of the beautiful young men and women in our own lives as the first mom and pop are about Baron?

This all seems to have been prompted by a series of reports highlighting that six Americans may have died from the habit, with hundreds potentially having contracted lung-related illnesses.

Colour me shocked. Purposefully pumping your lungs full of a bunch of chemicals human lungs didn’t evolve to handle has a health impact. How’d that happen?

The trouble with vaping is that it’s a relatively new product that hasn’t been around long enough for scientists to be able to say whether there are health risks associated with it and what those risks might be.

What has been definitively proved is that getting a nicotine hit through smoking cigarettes is a thoroughly bad idea if you want to enjoy a long and healthy life.

The research, such as it is, suggests vaping is somewhat less harmful than normal cigarettes.

A couple of years back, a Cancer Research UK-funded study of 181 smokers and ex-smokers found that those in the latter category who had used e-cigarettes or other nicotine replacements benefitted from lower levels of toxins than the former.

“The findings of this study do appear to reassure that use of e-cigarettes and nicotine replacement therapy – while continuing to provide nicotine – can reduce exposure to toxic chemicals that can lead to cancer in cigarette smokers,” opined the NHS.

But it also highlighted the study’s limitations.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the US said of the allegedly vaping related deaths, “We do not yet know the specific cause of these illnesses. The investigation has not identified any specific e-cigarette or vaping product (devices, liquids, refill pods, and/or cartridges) or substance that is linked to all cases.”

It’s investigating further. As it should.

But it hardly bears repeating that even if it is proved that vaping was the main cause of the six deaths, guns kill many times that number in the US every day.

In 2017 there were almost 11,000 firearm-related homicides in that country.

Then there’s obesity. A recent study suggested rising rates in the US had stalled or reversed decades of progress with respect to deaths from heart disease, strokes and related complications.

Want more? Let’s talk air pollution. Globally, 4.2 million people succumb to that every year according to the World Health Organisation.

And don’t even get me started on climate change.

You see where I’m going with this.

All of those issues warrant more attention from policy makers than does vaping. E-cigarettes could surely use more investigation. But a panic? A statement on the White House lawn? Please.

Of course, creating a fuss about them could come in quite handy to divert attention from things such as dismal poll ratings and other screw ups.

Kids! Just say no!

Just saying.

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Dealing with a potentially risky product like e-cigarettes isn’t hard. Make sure users are exposed to clear warnings about the lack of data when it comes to what they are doing and the potential harm they may be incurring. Put in sensible legislative framework around their sale. Do more research, which could be funded by a small levy on the sale of vaping products.

But when you put the habit against the world’s many problems and the very real threats they pose to America’s, not to mention the world’s youth, it’s no more than a puff of smoke by comparison.

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