We’ve talked recently about where you can enjoy your e-cigarette in Ireland, and about the etiquette of vaping in company. This might lead you to believe that as e-cigarettes are gradually being embraced by the mainstream, while in actual fact, e-cigarettes are in a state of flux because of ongoing regulatory matters.
New inventions require new regulation and even new ways of thinking. Around the world, laws and regulation regarding e-smoking have been both swift and incremental, and we’re seeing international reactions to e-smoking vary from country to country, and even region to region.
E-cigarettes in North America
America is far from unified on the issue of e-cigarettes, with many regions making their own decisions on a local level: Santa Monica, for instance, is the third Californian region to introduce harsh vaping regulations.
While obviously laws and the measurements of morality change from country to country, there is also international common law, and often following this, an international tipping point at which countries align their laws and intentions. The Kyoto Protocal, which dealt with climate change, is a recent example of such international co-operation.
This article on Canada’s take on e-smoking gives a good, broad view on the subject. Health Minister Rona Ambrose is quoted in the piece, saying: “The idea of a ban is not really an option at all. They’re here. Most of the experts concluded that e-cigarettes are better for your health than tobacco cigarettes. If we’re looking at reducing harm to Canadians, that’s a good starting point.”
Soft Power Influence and E-cigarettes
Research indicates that Canada looked to America and the UK’s attitude to e-smoking for guidance. This is a consequence of those two countries’ “soft power”.
Soft power is the power of cultural influence on the world stage; how a country is perceived, how it will influence international thinking and how it will attract diplomacy and investment from other countries.
Qatar, for example, lost some soft power with the recent FIFA scandal and some have argued that Ireland gained soft power with the recent marriage referendum.
Ireland – as you’ve probably noticed – doesn’t have a huge population or powerful military, but we do rank highly when it comes to soft power, inching towards the top twenty most influential countries in the world according to this recent survey by Monocle. the Irish approach to vaping – regulated, but permitted in some circumstances – is roughly in line with similarly-inclined Western countries.
The earlier Canadian article from the Cantech Letter argues the point that there’s a rough consensus forming regarding vaping; leaning towards varying degrees of regulation (which VIP has always welcomed), but never an outright ban. “Worldwide, few countries have outright bans on vaping, instead opting for a regulatory patchwork of half-measures. South Korea taxes the hardware. Switzerland and Sweden ban the hardware but not the practice of vaping. China lets the responsibility fall to the municipal level.”
One Eye on the Future
The story is far from over. It’s clear that the major countries and organisations are releasing conflicting statements. Quote the same article: “Those looking for international leadership on e-smoking will likely come away as confused as nation states seem to be on the matter. Last year, within the span of two days, the World Health Organization called for the ban of indoor vaping, while the American Heart Association praised its benefits.”
For the moment, culturally in Ireland we see vaping as a means of transition away from traditional cigarettes. However, you’ll need to keep an eye on the political discussions both at home and abroad to get a clear picture of how developments concerning e-cigarette regulation will unfold.