Vape pens have flooded the mainstream market since 2004, and laws, regulation, and debate over health benefits and dangers are followed along in their wake.
Local laws and regulations in many places have not been kind to vaporizers designed for nicotine delivery, known as vape mods or e-cigarettes, or toward the e-juice nicotine concentrates used in these devises.
In many other places, vape mods for nicotine delivery – or for simple, nicotine-free, flavored vaporizing pleasure – are getting the green light, although often with some restrictions.
Rapidly changing laws legalizing medical and recreational cannabis consumption are also adding to the debate and the proliferation of vape pens and vaporizer use.
In this article we will take a look at the current state of the vape pen industry and see where it’s gaining and losing ground.
Vaporizer Restrictions Considered in California
Vaporizer pens for nicotine and cannabis can be legally owned, sold, and used in California by anyone over the age of 18. However, businesses, agencies, and localities are free to restrict use on their property.
Assembly Bill AB1594, authored by Assemblyman Kevin McCarty, D-Sacramento, now under consideration in the California legislature, would ban the use of vaporizers on all California State University and community college campuses. Currently, it is up to the college or university, and not all have bans.
Opponents of vaporizers make several arguments against them. Teachers and law enforcement officials complain they do not know what kind of substance a person is really using when they are vaporizing in public.
Medical professionals report a rise in hospital admissions for people vaporizing synthetic drugs as well as some for overdoses of nicotine and cannabis.
Parents and children’s advocacy groups worry that vaporizers and the enchanting flavors they can contain may make young people more vulnerable to nicotine addiction or tobacco use.
Some proponents of restrictions argue vaporizers are as unhealthy as smoking, but the studies that have been done so far do not actually show this.
Studies on Vaporizers and Health
There are not many studies on the safety of vaporizers yet, and the technology is too young for any agreement about health effects. But there are some studies that have looked specifically at e-cigarettes as a smoking cessation devise.
This preliminary data has shown promising enough results for health authorities and legislatures in some countries to begin prescribing vaporizers for smoking cessation, especially for people who are not motivated to quit and those who have tried many times using nicotine patches without success.
Studies on the health benefits for cannabis smokers switching from joints and pipes to vaporizers have not been done yet. No doubt, increasing cannabis legalization will change that in the future.
The dangerous effects of tobacco smoking are so well demonstrated now in research studies, no one really disagrees any longer. Tobacco smoke contains at least 4,000 chemicals, many of which are indisputably poisonous, like carbon monoxide and hydrogen cyanide.
While studies on the health effects of vaporizers are lacking, some studies on the health effects of smoking cannabis have been done, showing that many of the same poisonous chemicals in tobacco smoke are also present in cannabis smoke. The way people smoke cannabis also differs from typical tobacco smoking, with each inhalation being drawn more deeply into the lungs and held there for several seconds, increasing exposure to toxins.
Cannabis contains significant amount of tar, also strongly associated with the dangers of smoking tobacco. Some studies show cannabis containing even more tar than cigarettes.
These facts make it likely future studies will show that vaporizing cannabis is less harmful to health than smoking it. Anecdotal reports by former tokers who have switched to vaporizing, and common sense, suggest the same.
Changing Vape Pen Laws Around World
One thing is certain: Laws and restrictions on vape pens, vape mods, and e-juice are in flux, and it will be a long time until the dust settles. Meanwhile, consumers of these products are wise to stay up to date on the laws in their home location and travel destinations.
In some countries vape pens have been banned completely, and stiff penalties are imposed on anyone found possessing or using one. If you are traveling to Singapore, Uruguay, the Seychelles Islands, or Brazil, leave your vape pen at home, or you might wind up in jail or paying a steep fine.
Two thirds of all countries have laws in place either banning the devises completely or, more commonly, restricting use to people over 18 or those with medical prescriptions. In the U.K., vape pens for nicotine are legal for people over 18, but using them is banned in most public places, including the train system.
Canada currently has laws in place making it legal for people over 18 to have these products and use them, but vaporizers themselves and the vapor producing products used with them, with or without nicotine, cannot be sold.
In the US, e-cigarettes currently are slipping through Federal laws banning television advertisements of cigarettes, because e-cigarettes contain only nicotine and not tobacco, which is what the ban covers. Anti-smoking and tobacco activists are working to change this.
A large number of countries have made vape mods for nicotine legal for people over 18 as well as legalizing the production and sale of e-juice. These countries include the UK, Bulgaria, the Netherlands, Poland, Italy, Hungary, Germany, the Czech Republic, Ireland, and the United States. Local restrictions may still apply, and knowing the local laws is always advisable.
In the U.S., while Federal laws uphold the right of anyone over 18 to buy or sell vape pens, vaporizers, and e-juice, local municipalities and States are still banning and restricting use in public places.
Debate Smolders While Vaping Use Grows
While lawmakers and advocacy groups continue debating the regulation of vaporizers, vape pens, and vape mods, people everywhere are making a massive shift toward this evolving technology.
Younger people are making the switch faster and sooner, while older generations of smokers and tokers are taking longer in joining the trend.
But the recent fast growth in vape pen and vaporizer purchases, preliminary data on health benefits, and the unstoppable wave of cannabis legalization virtually guarantee that vaporizers, e-juice, and cannabis concentrates are here to stay.