One of the most high-profile entities to come along in recent years is the Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust. Using money collected from lawsuits against "Big Tobacco," it has focused intensely on smoking cessation and prevention - especially among young people.
Because of efforts such as these, smoking rates have dropped dramatically in many areas. There are few people - including ardent smokers - who would argue smoking isn't detrimental to their health. One look at its effect on health care costs is illuminating, and indisputable. COPD, heart conditions, various cancers - the list goes on and on.
Though the places where smokers can indulge in their habit are increasingly fewer in number, Americans still have a right to smoke and use other tobacco products. Many people would like to quit, and they struggle to do so, using pills, gum and patches. But some of these "cures" have side effects that, for certain individuals, are worse than the "disease."
Increasingly in America, smokers must contain their habit to their homes, automobiles and designated areas. But wherever they do it, people under 18 aren't permitted to smoke by law, and most merchants are diligent about asking for IDs.
A few years ago, "vaping" became all the rage. This method of ingesting the addictive nicotine did away with the "tar" delivered by cigarettes and thus the "smoke" in the lungs. Many people used vaping as a method of kicking the smoking habit, while others adopted "vaping" on its own. And because some of the vaping flavors were appealing to youngsters, that practice became even more popular among kids than smoking tobacco.
That's why Gov. Kevin Stitt's signature confining the use of vapor products to the same places as tobacco smoking is important. As of Monday, July 1, vaping became prohibited at public schools. It's part of the 24/7 Tobacco-Free Schools Act that covers any of the state's educational institutions, as well as in school-owned vehicles and at activities or events sponsored by schools.
Yelping in protest may emanate from certain quarters, but there is no reason why "vapers" should be afforded privileges regular smokers do not have - especially now that many experts and laypeople are starting to suspect this practice may not be much safer than smoking itself. Vapers ingest chemicals into their lungs, after all - and it's hard to defend that as "healthy."
One in six high school students is using e-cigarettes, and that's a trend no parent - even those who smoke or vape themselves - should sanction. TSET's targeting of this practice when it comes to kids is prudent, proactive, and one good way of saving our children from themselves. But sometimes, the "voluntary" policies don't work, and even for those the education campaign helps, there comes a point when push wcomes to shove.
If smoking is banned on school property and at school functions, then so should be vaping. Even setting aside health and liberty concerns, fair is fair.