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Montana Treats Smoking and Vaping Differently In Proposed Ban

Montana Treats Smoking and Vaping Differently In Proposed Ban


Montana Treats Smoking and Vaping Differently In Proposed Ban

Missoula, Montana is looking to broaden legislation to include vaping in a city-wide indoor smoking ban and allow business owners to choose whether or not they would like to ban vaping outside of their establishments. This, on the face, may seem like a setback for vaping in general, but trying to glean specks of optimism from otherwise bad news, this legislation makes a point of not lumping smoking combustible cigarettes in with vaping - at least not entirely.

For years, the vaping community has been adamant about their desire to be regulated separately from smoking, although the results have been a little murky. According to this ordinance, it would be a broadening of the Montana Clean Indoor Air Act, which would ban vaping and e-cigarette use indoors, allow business owners to ban smoking outdoors within 25 feet of their entrances, and outlaw smoking in public areas like sports fields, playgrounds, and duck ponds.

This differentiation between smoking and vaping is minor but important. That means that they’re treating vaping as a problem for commercial environments, while not banning it from outdoor areas like parks and fields. Businesses can already ban smoking as part of the ordinance optional outside of businesses with a $100 fine if violated.

The city council will hold a public hearing on the proposed smoking ordinance at 7 p.m. Monday, Feb. 26.

Smoking and Vaping is Not The Same

A lot of the attitudes for vaping come from the top down, from government attitudes about permission and harm, and the ways in which vaping is oftentimes viewed in the United States as the same or worse than smoking combustible cigarettes.

Other similar ordinances from other districts and states have by and large treated vaping and smoking combustible cigarettes the same. However, study after study has been adamant in the harm reduction possibilities of vaping

Most of those studies come from other countries, while the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) have been lukewarm on their assessment of vaping, but have yet to go so far to say that it could be beneficial for cessation purposes.

However, in its latest report, the CDC has reluctantly conceded that vaping is a more popular and effective tobacco harm reduction tool than any other nicotine replacement therapy, including nicotine patches, nicotine gum, and pharmaceutical drugs like Chantix, Zyban, or Wellbutrin.

In countries like the United Kingdom, their Federal Health Services have argued that vaping is 95 percent safer than smoking combustible cigarettes.

A Step In The Right Direction

If approved, this ordinance in Montana wouldn’t be ideal for the vaping community of Missoula, but it does show a growth in the way that our laws treat vaping. We support reasonable regulation and reasonable prohibition, however, vaping is a separate independent industry from big tobacco and can reasonably, a couple years down the line, be treated by the U.S. government the same as its treated in countries like the U.K.

Seeing cessation as a method for harm reduction to the dangers of tobacco is key to these types of initiatives at the governmental level.