How A $1.4 Million Grant Could Change Everything About Vaping
The grant was funded in an effort to understand what are the most effective regulations
It has been near a decade since e-cigarettes took the stage and gained massive popularity. The Scientific community immediately jumped in and began conducting study after study to uncover the effects. The general scientific consensus has been that vaping is substantially safer than combustible cigarettes, and that it is incredibly effective as a smoking cessation tool. Despite these results, public perception, media coverage, and legislation about vaping all seem to take a negative view of the matter. However, a recent grant issued by the National Institutes of Health is now funding a study that could change that view and the laws it creates.
Georgia State University has received $1.4 million from NIH to fund four years of research that will evaluate the effects of various attempts at regulating e-cigarettes, vapes, and their accessories, along with other nicotine replacement therapies like patches and gum. This study promises to shape the way vaping is regulated across the country, which could prove to be a significant step in improving public perception.
The study will be led by Dr. Michael Pesko, an economist at Georgia State’s Andrew Young School of Policy Studies and conducted in conjunction with Georgia State’s School of Public Health, Cornell University, Temple University, the University of Kentucky, and the University of Pennsylvania. Their goal is to assess the various types of regulations like taxes, bans, and age restrictions that have been placed on e-cigarettes and how they relate to pricing, availability, and ultimately public perception of the products.
Pesko says “There is a gap in understanding how to regulate or deregulate e-cigarettes in the most optimal way from the perspective of public health, and a lack of understanding of what spillover effects vaping regulations might have on other health behaviors.” Pesko’s concerns are valid and have been asked by many in the vaping community. Without a full picture of how the regulations will affect users and non-users alike how can legislators know what is the best option for their governed.
Pesko has made it clear that his primary goal is to answer the question of “What regulations, if any, would facilitate the best outcome from the perspective of public health?” While scientists have been busy studying vaping’s effects on individual health, the question of societal effect has generally gone unanswered, and it’s clear the answer is sorely needed. Lawmakers have tried or proposed all sorts of regulations including obscene taxes and outright bans. “If e-cigarettes are heavily taxed or regulated,” Pesko says “people might be discouraged from using them as smoking cessation devices, which would likely have a negative impact on public health.” There is a strong possibility that the wrong regulations could drive people to use traditional cigarettes, negatively impacting their health and the health of others. At the same time, Pesko points out that some restrictions are needed saying “e-cigarettes are not harmless and so regulating them could have health benefits if the regulations don’t tip people into more dangerous traditional cigarette use.”
This study has the potential to make a massive difference in the future of vaping and the fight against smoking. Finding the balance between what regulations must be put in place to prevent minors from vaping and regulations that only prevent more smokers from taking up vaping is a key to public perception and acceptance.
A balance must be found if vaping is to have the future it deserves, a future full of helping people quit smoking once and for all. Dr. Pesko most accurately summed up the topic when he said: “One in every five people die due to cigarette use, so anything we can do to reduce disease and death caused by smoking is time and money well spent.”
Should we be putting such an emphasis on learning about the proper way to regulate vaping? What do you think is hurting the public perception of vaping the most? How do you think we should work against the misinformation? Let us know what you think in the comments, and don’t forget to check back here or join our Facebook and Twitter communities for more news and articles.