Why A Super Rich Nation Lifting Vaping Bans Could Ultimately Be A Bad Thing
The UAE is in talks to lift their strict vaping ban, but if done improperly it could leave the door wide open for Big Tobacco
Smoking is still the leading cause of preventable death and disease across the globe, even after decades of robust anti-tobacco campaigns. So while the trends are moving in the right direction, it’s just as important as ever that we work to snuff out smoking once and for all. To do that society must take advantage of all the best tools we have at our disposal. One such tool that receives a lot of flack is vaping e-liquids. Despite the growing pile of reputable research that indicates vaping is at least 95% safer than smoking, many governments around the world have decided to harshly regulate the devices.
Places like the US have been skeptical of vaping, but stopped far short of outright bans on the habit. But this is sadly the norm in many parts of the globe. Indeed, if you look around the world, there are plenty of governments who have, despite their lax treatment of cigarettes, banned the use of vaping products in any capacity whatsoever. One such nation with these types of regulations was the United Arab Emirates or UAE, but recently they indicated that this archaic ban might soon be reaching its end.
The Potential Lifting
Until now the UAE has held an extremely strong stance on vaping products. In fact, until just recently the primary concern of the legislators seemed to be further preventing vaping products from being smuggled into their country. Back in March, a senior health official stated that they were currently working on regulations which would lead to harsh consequences for anyone caught trying to bring the devices into the country. Luckily it seems that this may be coming to an end, as one of the UAE’s consumer advocacy groups, known as Esma, is working on a new plan for e-cigarettes that could ultimately lead to the ban being lifted.
Currently, the vaping market in the UAE is entirely underground. According to Dr. Wedad Al Maidoor, the Head of the National Tobacco Control Committee, “All the e-cigarettes currently available in the country have not been imported, since no import standards have been specified. So, they are smuggled.” But that may soon be changing according to representatives with Philip Morris International. “We believe that Esma is seriously considering how to best regulate all novel tobacco products to ensure product safety and the highest quality.” Unfortunately, if this comes to pass, it may ultimately provide Big Tobacco companies like PMI with a blueprint for how to start taking over the independent vaping industry.
PMI’s True Motives
While this push from PMI to get vaping bans lifted in the UAE seems like an excellent thing for the vaping community, it’s vital that we don’t let Big Tobacco companies steamroll in and steal the market. This latest push is only the latest in a long line that gives away their true intentions moving forward. Currently, the vaping market is dominated by smaller independent makers, rather than the few massive conglomerates that make up the tobacco industry. But it’s clear that these companies see the writing on the wall and are looking to plan for a future without smoking at all.
PMI has taken several steps over the last year to improve their claim as a vaping advocate. First, they pledged 80 million dollars a year over the next 12 years to start a non-profit foundation aimed at researching smoke-free alternatives. They’ve even gone as far as to say outright they’re planning on a future where smoking doesn’t exist. Even in their statements on the UAE ban, they’ve clearly stated their true intentions, “Our ambition is clear. We are working to replace cigarettes with smoke-free products in all countries, including the whole of the GCC.” While the goal is something we can all agree is positive, we must be wary of letting Big Tobacco take control of the industry.
While it’s great to see a rich nation reconsider their stance on vaping, it remains critically important that we don’t hand over the vaping industry to Big Tobacco. After all, they’ve proven they cannot be trusted after withholding essential information about the dangers of smoking for as long as they did. Vaping as we know it was invented as a direct response to the smoking epidemic, so why should we even consider letting companies like PMI thrive off it? Instead, we must work to support the positive things the PMI is doing, such as fighting to end the vaping ban in the UAE, while simultaneously not letting them set things up to steal market share away from independent and innocent vaping companies. Otherwise, we’re basically letting them entirely off the hook for the centuries of death and disease they’re directly responsible for.
Is a vaping ban being lifted a good thing even if PMI led the charge? How can we work to lift vaping bans without giving a pass to Big Tobacco companies? What’s the best way to spread the real information on vaping? 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.