I personally do not vape, nor do I have any desire to vape. My personal belief is that it can’t be good or healthy for a non-smoker to coat his lungs in oil on a regular basis. That said, I pass no judgment on whether it’s safe for others to vape, and it may very well be that it is safer than smoking. I have no expertise in that area and so I will not judge that issue either way.
In the past couple of weeks, I don’t think it’s too much of a stretch to say the media has been frenzied with reports of deaths due to vaping and begging people not to vape until more research can be done as to its effects. Maybe that’s a good idea; I really don’t know. But it isn’t really the relevant point.
In each of the cases recently reported where vaping has caused death or serious injury, it has been the consequence of people buying cartridges on the black market without taking into consideration what might be contained in them. One could blame a black market and demand better regulation, but that wouldn’t make the black market go away. Nor would it cause the black market to start selling safer cartridges. The market is already illegal, and so there are no safety standards.
People have to take responsibility when consuming anything. If you’re going to buy something on the black market without having a reputable and reliable source that you can trust, or someone that can attest to exactly what’s in it, then you have to accept that there is a significant risk that something bad could happen to you.
In no way am I an advocate for regulations. I believe the best tools are voluntary industry groups that self-monitor and test and be open to consumers about what they put in their products. People can select from reliable vendors and reliable distributors and brands by how well they inform consumers. Consumers can accept responsibility for self-education and -awareness of what they’re consuming. Consumers and voluntary, self-regulating markets tend to be the best detergents to faulty and dangerous products.
When there are government regulations, they are simply barriers that producers of goods try to get around in whatever way they can to produce the least expensive products. When there are government regulations, consumers rely too heavily on them and assume all products are safe for their consumption without consideration for educating themselves. When markets self-regulate, consumers tend to pay more attention and producers, in turn, tend to pay more attention to the safety needs of consumers.
It is tremendously tragic that people have died from the use of vape cartridges. Those who have knowingly sold goods that could present a danger to someone’s life need to be held to account. It is real criminal activity. I also believe that people should do what they can to be good consumers. Don’t rely on government regulations to keep you safe. They aren’t going to do a great job of that. Your best bet is to educate yourself on which suppliers and sources are reliable and give you the most information. It might mean paying a little more, but it’s probably worth the safety. This really applies to anything you consume.
Should the government do more to crack down on black market sales of vaping products? I don’t think so. I think that instead, they should deregulated the markets, thus creating opportunities for them to self-regulate in ways that better inform consumers that demand to be informed.
If you vape and you are worried about getting dangerous products, educate yourself and demand information on what’s in the products, thus forcing the market to show you. If people are interested in getting safer products, then demand industry self-regulation rather than government regulation. We will all be safer that way. The industry knows better than government bureaucrats what goes into vaping products, and they know better than government which things are safe. Let them present it to their consumers on their own. When consumers know the government can’t keep them safe, they will know to demand safety from suppliers. Suppliers then will give it to them.