Vaping Banned from National Parks as of September 2015

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Vaping Banned From Parks, says National Park Service

Earlier in September, an announcement was made by the National Park Service: Vaping banned anywhere that traditional cigarettes are banned. However, there is unsettled science on any possible health effects of the e-cigarettes secondhand vapor (which is claimed to have nicotine at 1/10th of the level of traditional secondhand smoke) and a likely minimal fire risk.

vaping banned from national parks

It is now illegal to vape in national parks. Image: canstock

This announcement has amended a 2003 policy that was last revised in 2009 to ban smoking inside buildings and vehicles while park superintendents can further restrict smoking outside. The service employees were given notice only a week before the announcement was made – via a memo that was citing disputed claims about the e-cigarettes giving off formaldehyde and a chemical that is also found in antifreeze.

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Abundance of Caution

That same memo declared that the decision to ban electronic cigarettes came from an abundance of caution due to the findings and uncertainty that has been faced. While it is sensible to ban traditional cigarettes – since they have burned about 20,000 acres and cost $22 million to extinguish – that threat is not there with e-cigarettes. With traditional smoking on the decline, there has been a dramatic drop in the number of fires that are linked to traditional cigarettes. E-cigarettes are a large part of that dramatic drop since many long time smokers are turning to them to try and decrease the amount of nicotine they take in or as they try to quit. The overall national rate of smoking has also been decreasing.

Since little is known about the long-term health effects of the “second hand” vapor of these new kind of devices, there are incredibly different views on how they can potentially impact the national parks and those who don’t smoke.

Will it be enforced?

There is a call to action to not enforce these new restrictions on the grounds that since they are not flame lit, but instead run by batteries that pose about the same fire hazard risk as that of a cell phone’s battery, they shouldn’t be treated like a large fire hazard.

The other issue that everyone seems to be having with this new restriction is that the memo seems to demonstrate that they are aware there is a very large difference between traditional cigarettes and the electronic cigarettes, yet goes so far as to make a broad generalization that implies that the exhaled vapor contain nicotine at about 1/10th the level of secondhand smoke.

However, it is currently unclear how strictly these restrictions will be enforced. It is currently thought that the e-cigarette users will be able to get away with vaping (as it is termed in their language and lingo) in the more remote areas of the parks, as long as fellow travelers aren’t bothered by the vapor of course.

Don’t be fooled, though. New York City, which is densely populated, banned vaping at beaches and parks in early 2014. Complaints about too much enforcement have yet to make the headlines despite the controversy over the ban. It’s quite possible the same will happen with this.

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Jim H

I started vaping in January 2011 and haven't had the desire to smoke a traditional cigarette since. It inspired me so much that I created this website to help others like me who want to quit smoking. I hope you enjoy the site and please leave a comment.

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