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Thompson: Ban guns, not vapes

Editor’s Note: All opinion section content reflects the views of the individual author only and does not represent a stance taken by The Collegian or its editorial board.

Electronic cigarettes, also known as vapes, have been making headlines due to several deaths said to be linked to their use. Walking around the Colorado State University campus would confirm that vaping is a serious epidemic among young people. In fact, Colorado has the highest rate of teen vaping in the nation.

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President Donald Trump threatened to ban flavored vapes in response to several illnesses thought to be related to their use. As an American citizen, it’s baffling to see our government try to get ahead of an issue proactively when its impact on the fabric of our society is so much less evident than it is with gun violence. Entire generations are growing up fearful of their surroundings because they’re aware their lives are at the whim of a possible active shooter.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there were 12 confirmed deaths from 10 states related to e-cigarette use. However, there are over 500 cases in nearly three dozen states with ties to vaping-related respiratory illnesses. 

What we don’t know are the specific chemical exposures causing the illness, and it has not been confirmed whether or not these are tied to a single product from a specific company.

According to Everytown, an organization started after the shootings in Newtown, Connecticut, there are nearly 40,000 gun-related deaths every year, including homicide, suicide, unintentional deaths and shootings by law enforcement. The U.S. gun homicide rate is 25 times higher than other high-income countries.

The suffering caused by the two separate instances need not be compared based on that alone, but it’s no secret that gun-related deaths far outnumber those from vaping.

If banning things is such an easy, cost-effective solution to our problems, then the Trump Administration should also focus on banning assault weapons, high-capacity magazines and other weapons of war.

Additionally, the CDC can not keep accurate gun-related death data because the National Rifle Association has lobbied significantly in the past to pass legislation like the Hickey Amendment.

As a result of these efforts, gun violence research has shrunk 96% since the mid-1990s. You can’t fix a problem if you don’t have data to reinforce the subsequent actions you want to take to make it stop.

If banning things is such an easy, cost-effective solution to our problems, then the Trump administration should also focus on banning assault weapons, high-capacity magazines and other weapons of war.

Even then, using a ban as a means to change human behavior usually does not work. People will find ways around it, making it even less safe. The same argument can be made for banning drugs. We know this doesn’t stop people from doing them; they just find other ways to get them.

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Banning products and leaving industries unregulated is a sure-fire way to let things slip through the cracks. Solutions need to be more comprehensive than that if there’s going to be long term change.

It’s true that there should be more research done into the effects of long-term vaping. While it might make a significant impact on cigarette-related chronic illnesses, we might be in the beginning stages of a subsequent public health crisis that will only reveal itself in time. 

Madison Thompson can be reached at letters@collegian.com or on Twitter @heyymadison.

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