New Battle Over Vaping Regulation Pits Major City Vs. Their State
A proposal in South Carolina would give zoning power over vaping shops to state legislators instead of the local government, a move bringing mixed reactions.
Vaping regulations and how to best implement them is one of the more complicated topics surrounding e-cigarettes. It’s not uncommon for major countries to completely change their stance on vaping as more evidence is published. Making matters worse, frequently legislators within a given place can’t agree on how to proceed, which leads to increased turmoil and debate. One such place the vaping community is currently fighting a complex battle is in Myrtle Beach South Carolina, where state legislators are currently working on wrestling vaping zoning control from local officials.
The reactions to this battle have been quite varied, with some on both sides of the vaping debate supporting the cities right to control their zoning laws, while many shop owners and vapers applaud the state for working to protect vaping rights. Meanwhile, the debate over the value of vaping is still raging on with some worried about the impact on teens, as others point to a mountain of peer-reviewed evidence supporting the harm reduction and smoking cessation value of e-cigarettes. Regardless, the situation in Myrtle Beach sets up a very interesting fight. One which could ultimately set a pivotal precedent in the battle over vaping regulations.
The bill currently proposed in the South Carolina State House would effectively take away a city’s power to choose the zoning for vape shops across the state. It would also give the state the power to choose zoning for other tobacco or nicotine-based businesses. This move has made significant waves, as local officials view it as a violation of their basic responsibilities as the local municipality. Still, the state legislators who introduced the bill claim it’s primary objective is to provide a safe and fair playing field for the many vapers across South Carolina. The majority of vape shop owners seem to agree with the state’s decision, while it’s the local legislators who are upset over what they view as encroaching oversight.
Mark Kruea, who is the official spokesperson for Myrtle Beach, blasted the proposal in an interview with the local news. “The bill before the General Assembly right now would seem to fly in the face of Home Rule which allows local government to make local decisions, and zoning is definitely one of those local decisions that needs to be made at this level.” However, not everyone agrees with Mr. Kruea, as the majority of vape shop owners felt this move by the state would save their businesses by preventing every election cycle from becoming an existential crisis for their industry. One shop owner went as far as to say “If they do not pass this law in Columbia [the state capital], every small town, every large town should be afraid. Their business can be moved at any time, at any whim of the next elected person.”
The Research On Vaping
While the debate over how to regulate vaping wages on in South Carolina, we have plenty of independent research on the harm reduction and smoking cessation value of vaporizers. For starters, reports show the excess lifetime cancer risk of a vaper is about 57,000 times lower than smokers with a similar background. These results seem incredible, but when you realize we’ve known since 2015 that vaping is at least 95% safer than smoking, it’s not as surprising. In fact, as recently as a few months back we got yet another report which concluded cigarette smoke has about 93% more toxicants than e-liquid vapor.
Aside from the harm reduction value, we still have plenty of positive research. For instance, we believe e-cigarettes are the single best smoking cessation tool we have at our disposal thanks to a study conducted by researchers at the University of Louisville. They tested all the most common quit aids and methods and found vaping even beat out the new popular prescription drugs. Finally, we have evidence which shows the teenage vaping “epidemic” is being overblown. A report of over 60,000 teens found that only between 0.1% and 0.5% of non-smoking teens are vaping regularly, let alone making the jump to smoking.
Understanding how to properly regulate the vaping industry is an extremely complicated issue. Of course, we need to worry about any unintended consequences, especially for teens, but where is the line? Smoking still kills more people every year than any other preventable cause, while legislators preoccupy themselves by restricting one of the best tools we have in the fight. Both sides of the debate in South Carolina have a point to make, but the question should be what’s more important. In this case, passing the law will benefit small business owners, but the next time it could very well be the opposite. That’s why it’s so important to keep your eyes and ears open. If we genuinely want to end the tobacco epidemic once and for all, we must take advantage of the best tools we have, not undermine them at every turn.
What do you think about the situation in South Carolina? What’s more important, state or local control of business zoning? How should we be working to spread positive information to those around us? 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.