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New York City goes full steam ahead on e-cig crackdown

A group of New York City legislators have pushed through a series of bills and amendments that will make life much harder for the city’s vapers. The multi-pronged attack will put further harsh restrictions on where you can use electronic cigarettes, as well as making it more difficult to buy them and penalising vendors.

The first new restriction, sponsored by Democrat council member James Vacca, makes it illegal to use e-cigs in common areas of any multiple dwelling. This means it’s now a crime to vape on the stairs of your apartment building, despite there being no known health risks from doing so.

Another regulation, pushed by fellow Democrat member Brad S Lander, forbids sales of any tobacco product – which, under the eccentric US definition, includes e-cigarettes – in a pharmacy or any shop which contains a pharmacy. This law will reduce the choice of harm reduction products available to many smokers who might prefer a pharmacy to a vape shop. Again, there’s no hint of what problem it’s designed to solve.

Fernando Cabrera, another Democrat, sponsored a successful amendment to impose a license scheme on e-cigarette vendors. NYC already has a licensing scheme for tobacco retailers and Cabrera wants to inflict it on vape shops too. This law is openly aimed at shutting down vape shops; the number of licenses will be capped at half the current number of vendors, so vapers in the Big Apple are soon going to have a lot less choices available.

New study confirms – US teen vaping not a problem

A new paper released in Nicotine & Tobacco Research, and using data from the 2014 and 2015 National Youth Tobacco Survey, has confirmed the previous findings that most US teenagers never use e-cigarettes and hardly any of the ones who do are non-smokers. This won’t be a surprise to many vapers, but it’s another nail in the coffin of the argument that vapour products are a menace to America’s youth.

The researchers found that in both 2014 and 2015, more than 80% of American youth hadn’t used any tobacco product or e-cigarettes in the past 30 days. Only 11.3% of teens had used an e-cig in that time and only 4% were exclusive vapers – almost two-thirds who vaped also used another tobacco product. Of that 4% just over a third had never used another tobacco product, and almost none of them (0.1%) vaped regularly.

Based on the data, the team said that the numbers don’t allow any conclusions about e-cigarettes acting as a gateway into or out of tobacco use. This isn’t exactly news, but “gateway” claims are still regularly repeated by anti-vaping extremists, so any new evidence is always welcome.

Outrage at UK hospice

British and international vaping advocates reacted with outrage this week as it emerged that a British hospice, run by the National Health Service, had deprived a dying woman of her e-cigarette. Blogger Susanne Nundy, better known as Anna Raccoon, had been suffering from cancer which had moved into a terminal stage (sadly, Anna died early on Friday morning). To manage the pain she moved into the Priscilla Bacon Centre for Specialist Palliative Care in Norwich, which is affiliated to the local NHS trust.

Anna had switched from smoking to vaping several years ago, and took an e-cigarette with her when she moved into the hospice. Unfortunately one of the nurses became aware that she had it, and “discovered” it while “playing” with the contents of Anna’s bedside table. Anna was then told that, because there wasn’t enough evidence to prove that e-cigarettes were safe, she wouldn’t be allowed to use it. When her husband brought her another device, staff dismantled it to prevent her using it then stored it in the office.

What most appalled vaping advocates is that the NHS’s parent organisation, Public Health England, has issued guidelines stating that e-cigarettes should not be routinely included in no-smoking policies. There may be some circumstances in a hospital where vaping should be restricted, but in a hospice – where all the residents are terminally ill – it’s hard to see what the possible health benefits of a ban can be. The purpose of a hospice is to give terminally ill people as much comfort and dignity as possible, and depriving them of their remaining pleasures doesn’t seem to fit this goal. Fortunately, Anna Raccoon was able to escape from the hospice’s authoritarian rules and spend her last days at home.

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