Editorial: Tightening restrictions on vaping is a step in the right direction

According to the Truth Campaign, people who vape are four times as likely to start smoking cigarettes.

Daily Editorial Board

The Minnesota Daily reported Sunday that lawmakers are looking to tighten restrictions on vaping. Under the proposed bill, vaping would be banned in places where cigarettes are restricted. The bill would broaden the Minnesota Clean Indoor Air Act and limit youth smoking. We believe tightening vaping restrictions is needed to meet these goals.

Vaping, which is the smoking of e-cigarettes, is commonly thought to be better for health than smoking cigarettes. In reality, vaping is just as dangerous as smoking typical cigarettes. We have all seen the warning commercials, but many of us do not fully understand the dangers of vaping.

The truth campaign reports that someone who vapes is four times as likely to start smoking cigarettes. Though shocking, statistics only get worse. One Juul  pod equals 20 cigarettes worth of nicotine. Some vapes contain lead, formaldehyde and manganese, as well as other chemicals linked to cancer. 

Manufacturers intend to create candy and fruit-like flavors “to attract children,” according to Craig Weiss, chief executive at NJOY, an e-cigarette and vape manufacturer. The sweet flavors are likely to keep children and teenagers vaping, which is why lawmakers are looking to place restrictions on vaping.

While some University of Minnesota students have said the bill would be challenging to enforce, it’s important to remember it’s not just for the University campus. In fact, passing the bill would ban vaping in areas including public transportation, places of employment, government buildings and, of course, public schools.

At universities, vaping has become a sort of epidemic. It’s a normalized act that is commonly glorified on social media. For example, Barstool Gophers, a popular Instagram and Twitter account for the University of Minnesota, frequently posts photos and videos praising vaping. On Feb. 17, the @BarstoolGophers Instagram account posted a photo of a “quad Juul hitter,” or a device that allows someone to smoke four Juuls at once.

This unhealthy culture created around vapes and Juuls can be combated by bills like the one proposed. Though it may not be entirely effective, as it is taxing to enforce these types of laws at a university, it’s the first step needed to prevent youth smoking and obstruct vaping in public areas.

We realize that tightening vaping restrictions will not suppress the number of vapers at our University. But the bill may control the number of youth that are surrounded by and exposed to a culture that encourages vaping.