Las Vegas Sun

May 25, 2024

opinion:

Guest Column: More must be done to limit illegal vape products in Las Vegas

I wish I hadn’t started smoking tobacco. I started smoking as an adult and it was part of the freedom of making adult choices. There was no stigma attached to it, as it was part of the ritual of daily socializing and hanging out, especially as a hairdresser. We tend to be an industry with an overabundance of tobacco users.

However, after three years of pulling cigarette smoke into my lungs, I started to feel and understand what burning tobacco was doing to me both mentally and physically. Thank God I found e-cigarettes, better known as vaping.

It seems that every cigarette smoker I have ever known has tried to quit at one time or another. Everyone knows someone who has tried to stop, and everyone also knows that it’s not easy. Most smokers I know desire to give up the habit because after a time, you feel the physical effects of it. But the nicotine in the cigarette makes it tough to quit.

My group of smokers have all tried multiple times to quit. We’ve tried smoking cessation products like nicotine gum, nicotine patches, lozenges, and in the past couple of years vaping. Vaping by far has been the most effective way for us to kick the cigarette habit. For me, after only two weeks of vaping instead of using tobacco, I felt like a brand new person.

It now appears that science and medicine have confirmed that vaping is nearly twice as effective as other nicotine delivery methods or trying to go “cold turkey” to kick the tobacco habit. A simple online search will show you clinical research funded by the National Institutes of Health and published in peer-reviewed journals like the New England Journal of Medicine. Despite the clinical evidence and success within the adult population, the acceptance of vaping products as a less deadly alternative to cigarettes and a tool of smoking cessation has been slow going.

Our state and federal governments have finally established manufacturing regulations and restrictions on underage purchases. However, they need to strengthen their policies on stopping the flood of illegal and dangerous vape products from China. These are target marketed to teens by using enticing flavors with unregulated and unverifiable ingredients. By cleaning up this problem, the federal government can immediately place vape products on a path that will positively affect public perception. When cigarette smokers see that the quality of vape products is being enforced, there will be an even greater willingness to using vapes to quit smoking.

It would also be helpful if the Federal Drug Administration would stop dragging its feet and certify vaping as a method for tobacco cessation. It has done that certification for other nicotine products, and there is no reason why it shouldn’t be done for vaping. The FDA also has a responsibility to make it clear to the public that nicotine does not appear to be the primary driver of cancer for cigarette smokers. If more people understood that, it would help them transition away from cigarettes to less harmful alternatives. Millions of lives can be saved if people contact their congressional representatives to urge the federal government to be more aggressive in a crackdown on illegal vape products and insist that the FDA elevate vaping as one of the essential products to help smokers quit tobacco.

I am living proof that vape products can make all the difference in kicking the cigarette habit. Join me in this vital effort to help your friends and family who are trying to win this lifesaving battle.

Chris Schneider is a former smoker who lives in Las Vegas and has worked in the cosmetology field for over 16 years.