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National Park Service Issues New Ban on Vaping

Since 2003, smoking has been outlawed indoors and across many outdoor areas owned by the National Park Service. But this week, a new ecig ban was announced that has left many vapers feeling frustrated. According to Director Jonathan Jervis, the National Park Service is outlawing electronic cigarettes in all places where smoking is already prohibited.

“Protecting the health and safety of our visitors and employees is one of the most critical duties of the National Park Service,” Jarvis explained. “We are therefore extending the restrictions currently in place protecting visitors and employees from exposure to tobacco smoke to include exposure to vapor from electronic smoking devices.”

The director said that all employees of the park service were informed of the changes last week in a memo. The new policy is based on questionable reports about the potential risks for ecig vapor to be a threat to public health. Of course, none of this has been proven and many studies have actually shown that ecig vapor isn’t harmful to bystanders at all.

Despite the lack of evidence for their anti-ecig policy, the National Park Service is moving forward with the ban “out of an abundance of caution in light of the scientific findings and uncertainty to date, and in the interest of equity.”

According to the new rules, vaping is banned inside all NPS vehicles and buildings. Park superintendents also have the authority to ban vaping in outdoor areas too. Since vaping is against the rules anywhere that smoking is prohibited, that means that even many outdoor spaces are off limits. It’s common for smoking to be banned to prevent wildfires. After all, a single cigarette could start a massive blaze. But ecigs don’t utilize a flame and they don’t actually burn so they wouldn’t pose the same fire hazard. So why ban vaping in all of those same places?

Gregory Conley, president of the American Vaping Association criticized the new policy as extreme and unnecessary. “Outdoor smoking bans in parks can least somewhat be justified by the risk of fires, but vapor products pose no more of a fire risk than a cellphone battery,” he said. “This behavior is shameful and any enforcement of the ban will constitute a great misuse of government resources. The National Park Service should leave ex-smokers alone and let them camp and hike in peace.”

Many vapers question whether this kind of widespread ban could even be enforced. After all, how will park rangers possibly identify vapers when they are spread out over thousands of acres of land? In reality, these policies might be published and even posted on signs, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that people will comply. There is no official word on what will happen if someone actually uses an ecig within a prohibited area.

Do you think this rule is too extreme? Will you still vape in National Park owned areas despite the policy?

Electronic Cigarettes • April 5, 2017

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