After deaths, Trump set to ban vape flavours

Illegal: THC (a constituent of cannabis) found in some US vapes is banned in the EU. © Alamy

Is vaping good for society? While the US reacts to a recent spate of deaths, Britain is adamant that vaping saves lives and helps wean people off the far more dangerous addiction to tobacco.

Scoop! So claimed the news based on a leak from the White House this weekend.

The Trump administration plans to finalise a ban on almost all flavoured vaping products in the next few days, with exemptions only for tobacco and menthol flavours.

What’s going on?

In a nutshell, Donald Trump is following up on alarm sparked this summer after six Americans reportedly died from vaping-related illnesses.

But the background science is increasingly confused and the debate over the response — to ban or not to ban — increasingly bitter.

In Europe, there is no outbreak of the vaping sickness sweeping the USA.

“We have not seen anything like what we’ve seen in the US recently in Europe” said Constantine Vardavas of the European Respiratory Society.

The UK, in particular, is opposed to the impending US ban.

“You’re terrifying people who are benefiting from vaping by not smoking,” says Clive Bates, a former chief of the UK charity Action on Smoking and Health. The US is creating “one of the darkest episodes in American public health [...]. They have lost all their moorings with evidence and good practice,” he adds.

So, the question remains: is vaping good for society?

Smoke and mirrors

Yes, say some. There is no question that vaping is less harmful to health than smoking cigarettes. Many of the people who are developing illnesses are using vaping cartridges that are either contaminated or filled with an illegal substance. We just need to stick to trusted brands.

No, say others. Far more research is still needed. Just listen to the respected American Cancer Society, for example. It says, “E-cigarettes are still fairly new, and more research is needed over a longer period of time to know what the long-term effects may be.”

You Decide

  1. Is vaping attractive or cool?


  1. Using the Expert Links, research how vaping works. Draw a diagram that explains the key processes and the effects on the body.

Some People Say...

“Smoking is the perfect way to commit suicide without actually dying.”

Damian Hirst, British artist

What do you think?

Q & A

What do we know?
Vaping only really began in 2004 in China and didn’t come to the US and Europe until 2006, so it is only about 15 years old. The history of smoking tobacco dates back to as early as 5000 BC in the Americas, in shamanistic rituals. It has been studied by the scientific community for around 100 years, and been related to lung cancer for 70 years.
What do we not know?
Whether vaping leads to smoking. Martin Dockrell, of Public Health England, told the BBC there is “no evidence that flavours are leading kids who don’t smoke into vaping, but there is evidence that they are part of what helps smokers to switch”.

Word Watch

Tobacco and menthol
These are the two flavours that might escape a ban since they are not found to be as attractive to children
European Respiratory Society
A world leading medical organisation working to promote lung health and combat lung diseases.
Action on Smoking and Health
A major British public health charity that works to eliminate the harm caused by tobacco.
American Cancer Society
A US nationwide, voluntary health organisation dedicated to eliminating cancer.

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