May 13, 2015
“The authors appear untroubled by the fact that smokeless tobacco and e-cigarettes actually are on the order of 95-100% less risky than smoking. If you smoke this is important, health-sensitive information. If you don’t smoke, this information is merely true.” Clive Bates
So yesterday I’m surfing the net in my quest for vaping news. One article had a very short blurb on some California city or town that has implemented another restriction on vaping. I don’t know about you guys but I can only read so many of those. However, immediately below that was a link, “Abstinence-Only Education in Schools Violates California Law”. A glimmer of hope. So I clicked.
The story is actually about a ruling by a California Superior Court judge stating that under California law, schools cannot teach students that celibacy is the only way to prevent pregnancy or sexually transmitted disease.
OK, this was hardly what I was expecting. I’m pretty sure very few folks read my blog for advice on preventing pregnancy or sexually transmitted disease.
But then a quote by the judge caught my attention – “Access to medically and socially appropriate education is an important public right.”
California teens have the right to be educated about alternatives to total abstinence, for reducing pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. There are a number of options, other than abstinence, for dramatically reducing pregnancy and STDs. None are 100% effective. As Clive Bates would say, if you are sexually active this is important, health-sensitive information. If you are not sexually active, this information is merely true.
California teens do not have the right to be educated about alternatives to total abstinence, for reducing cancer and heart attacks from smoking. Even though e-cigarettes have been shown in numerous studies to dramatically reduce exposure to known carcinogens. They are not “harmless” and are not 100% effective. Again, important health-sensitive information for smokers, merely true for non-smokers.
When it comes to any form of nicotine usage, the safe-sex “Just say no” message is medically and socially appropriate. But the judge has made a powerful statement – just say no, is just not enough. It turns a blind eye to what we know to be true – some youth will ignore the message. And there are alternatives for reducing unwanted consequences.
The “total nicotine abstinence”, all or nothing approach of Public Health organizations is not medically or socially appropriate. And at least in California, it’s possibly illegal. Forcing one choice on everyone is fundamentally flawed thinking.
Well organized and well funded efforts have focused on blurring the line between two separate issues. Regrettably with considerable success. Keeping non-smoking teens away from cigarettes is not the same thing as keeping e-cigarettes away from teen smokers.
Teens have the right to be educated about risks associated with their choices. And alternatives for minimizing those risks. Abstinence-only crusades are wishful thinking. Not education. And not in the interests of public health, young or old. Someday, that will become the generally accepted norm.
Someday – but not today.
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Dave Coggin has a Master’s Degree in business and spent 35 years in corporate America. He is a co-founder and partner in DIYELS. He has spent the last five years actively researching and following the evolution of the e-cigarette industry. He is a strong proponent of e-cigarettes as the most promising option currently known for tobacco harm reduction. He may be contacted directly at firstname.lastname@example.org .
The opinions presented here are exclusively those of the author. Vaper’s Vortex is offered as a service to our customers and followers. Anyone considering e-cigarettes as an alternative to tobacco cigarettes should seek qualified advice from a medical professional.