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OWN #14 | 8-14 July 2019

The vaping battle in California is heating up, Netflix is cutting down on smoking in their programming and adding warnings for those that already contain it, and the UK is putting vape shops in hospitals. Buckle up!

California vs Vaping

San Francisco's Vaping Ban

San Francisco's vape ban has turned into war. On one side is the city of San Francisco who, having passed the bill, seemed like they had succeeded. On the other side is the Coalition for Reasonable Vaping Regulation, headed by JUUL Labs, obtaining enough signatures in a petition to allow it on the ballot in November in order to overturn the "ban".

The vaping side is arguing for harm reduction, trying to allow smokers and ex-smokers from having access to vaping as a means of quitting or staying off cigarettes. The other side is arguing that there is a teen vaping epidemic and any and all means of stopping that must be employed.

Both sides have valid points, and this is not quite as black-and-white as some may think. The problem becomes, how do you allow access to these products for vapers (and ex-smokers) without attracting new users who never smoked (and may never have taken it up). The answer to that is the key, but it does not seem like anyone really has it.

Federally, the FDA has essentially been "sitting on the fence", neither condemning nor condoning vaping. They basically left the regulation to a future group of FDA regulators to deal with.

Some argue that San Francisco, on the city level, is using this "e-cig ban" as a means to force the FDA to take decisive action on vaping. This remains to be seen.

JUUL and the newly formed coalition on the other hand seem to be using a very similar narrative to what the tobacco companies used in the past and it just seems to make them look guilty. People were hoodwinked by these tobacco companies and their bogus claims and underhand dealings, so people are finding it hard to swallow - even if it is the standard practice in US politics and law.

"We are working on a comprehensive application to demonstrate the potential public health impact of JUUL products, including the unprecedented rate at which our products are switching adult smokers from combustible use, which will be reviewed by F.D.A. technical and scientific experts," Theodore Kwong, a spokesperson for JUUL Labs, said in an email statement when asked about progress.

Other publications have also come out against the "ban", stating that it is a bad idea to ban a legal product that is available outside city bounds whilst a more harmful product, cigarettes, is left unchecked.

"Not only is it bad public policy to outlaw a legal product that's widely available just outside the city's borders, but it's bad public health policy to come down harder on the lesser of two tobacco evils," wrote the Los Angeles Times.

Time will tell how this all shakes out, but for now there are very vocal arguments coming from both sides. Watch this space.

California Bill Aims to Criminalize Underage Possession of Vape Products

If this wasn't enough, the stage of California (where San Francisco is located), is working on other bills against vaping as well, but there is some controversy surrounding that.

First off, making it a criminal offense for teenagers to posses this product will have unintended consequences - such as black market dealings and landing young people with permanent criminal records over something so trivial. Secondly, some claims are being made that the two main proponents of this bill have historically taken money from tobacco companies - strap on your tinfoil hats.

As with the SF vaping ban there are two sides arguing over this bill - and they aren't always who you'd expect. In addition to vaping companies, the American Lung Association is also opposing the bill - raising concerns over the criminalization aspects.

"Big Tobacco has a long history of attracting and addicting youth and young adults with highly-targeted marketing. However, youth purchase, possession and use laws do not protect children from the misleading messaging and advertising by the tobacco industry," the group said in a statement released Monday. "It is the responsibility of the tobacco industry and retailers to ensure youth are not targeted and should not fall on the vulnerable youth themselves."

With regards to the payments made to the proponents (Adam Gray and Jordan Cunningham) by tobacco companies, the following data has been presented.

Gray collected a total of $20,800 in campaign contributions since 2012, while Cunningham received a total of $13,000 since 2016, according to the California Secretary of State’s Office.

We'll be keeping a close eye on this one as it develops. For now, read the full articles below:

Netflix to Stop Portraying Smoking in it's Programming

After the latest season of "Stranger Things" premiered, there was somewhat of an outcry over the amount of smoking featured. In defence of Netflix, this is a period piece and the smoking portrayed was quite authentic and fitting to set the mood and portray specific characters - and additionally, it's an adult show with an adult age restriction.

Netflix however, has now vowed to that all future original programming of PG-13 or less will be smoke an e-cigarette free - except for reasons of historical or factual accuracy (which, to me at least, includes the portrayal in stranger things to a large degree).

For original programming aimed at older viewers (above PG-13), smoking or vaping will only be allowed if it is "essential to the creative vision of the artist or because it is character-defining".

In addition to this, Netflix will add warnings to existing programming which contain depictions of smoking. This will be in addition to Sex, Violence and Language warnings currently provided.

Read the full article below (which includes some interesting statistics on smoking in various Netflix programmes):

Vape Shops in UK Hospitals

In sharp contrast to what's happening in the US, two vape shops have been opened in NHS hospitals in the UK in order to assist with eradicating smoking.

The hospitals are clamping down on smoking on their grounds, with a £50 fine issued to those caught doing so. They are also employing security cameras to police this policy.

But vaping is allowed outside as long as it is away from doorways and smoking areas have been converted into vaping areas.

The trust’s medical director, Dr David Carruthers, said his organisation’s board and clinical leaders were united in the view that eliminating passive smoking on its sites was a public health necessity.

The company running the vape shops in the hospitals is Ecigwizard, and had the following to say on the matter:

We are keen to offer vaping as an alternative to smoking, as a means to help people cut down or quit.

Another win for the UK, whilst the US battles rage on. Read the full article below:

Other articles

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