What should be reformed first: guns or e-cigarettes? | The Tylt
The Trump administration recently announced plans to remove flavored vaping products from the market. After news broke of six deaths, all potentially tied to vaping, talks of e-cigarette use as a "public health crisis" increased. Death is tragic no matter the cause, but as many point out, guns are responsible for many more preventable deaths than e-cigarettes to date. This leads many to wonder: Has the Trump administration missed the mark on addressing public health concerns?
What should be reformed first: guns or e-cigarettes?
According to CBS, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is currently looking into over 450 cases of vaping-related illnesses across the country. Six deaths have been tied to e-cigarette usage, although the specific links between e-cigs and the lung-related illnesses remains to be seen.
As NPR's Richard Harris and Carmel Wroth point out, public perception of e-cigarettes is in desperate need of attention, as many interpret the cigarette-alternative as "better" for you, which is not the case:
When vaping products came on the market, some people welcomed them as a potentially safer alternative to cigarettes. And while millions of adults have switched from cigarettes, vaping has also drawn in a new generation of nicotine addicts. Vaping jumped dramatically among high school students between 2017 and 2018, rising to nearly 21% of high schoolers.
The American Lung Association has issued clear advice: do not use e-cigs. While the CDC works to uncover the specific links between vaping and lung disease, regulation should be swift.
In response to the six reported deaths and concerns about e-cigarettes, President Donald Trump announced his administration would work to take flavored vaping products off the market (as many are concerned the flavored varieties target younger audiences, thus endangering their health). NPR's Harris and Wroth report on Trump's comments on the subject:
"Vaping has become a very big business, as I understand it, but we can't allow people to get sick and allow our youth to be so affected," Trump said.
Pew Research reports that in 2017, 39,773 people died from gun-related injuries in the U.S.—the most since 1968—per the CDC. Again, preventable death is tragic no matter the cause, but the discrepancy in the numbers here leaves many beyond frustrated when it comes to inaction related to gun reform.
A ban on flavored e-cigs could keep the products out of the hands of teens who view them as innocent tools. As the New York Times' Sheila Kaplan writes:
The White House and the F.D.A. have faced mounting pressure from lawmakers, public health officials, parents and educators, who have grown alarmed by the popularity of vaping among teenagers but have felt powerless to keep e-cigarettes away from students and out of schools.
City and state governments have already begun to ban the flavored products, and their actions cannot come soon enough. According to Kaplan, five million minors reported having used e-cigarettes recently. For many public health groups, news of Trump's announcement is a huge sign of progress.
Matthew L. Myers, president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, called the administration’s decision “historic.”
“President Trump’s announcement that the government will remove flavored e-cigarettes from the market is an extraordinary and necessary step,” he said. “This is a public health crisis and we cannot afford more delays in confronting it.”
Public health reform should be wide-reaching, and for some, the discrepancy in action from the Trump administration reflects a clear bias. If Walmart can realize the status quo is "unacceptable," so should the U.S. government.