On February 3, 2017, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced plans to restrict the use of prohibited tobacco products in public housing. By July 30, 2018, all public housing agencies (PHAs) must have a smoke-free policy in place. The ruling will affect individual dwellings, common areas, administration offices, and all outdoor areas within 25 feet of these locations. However, certain exemptions are made regarding Section 8 or mixed-finance projects.
HUD defines “prohibited tobacco products” as anything that involves the burning of tobacco leaves, including waterpipes and hookahs. Vaping and electronic cigarettes are explicated stated to be perfectly acceptable, although individual PHAs have the right to adopt their own vaping-related rules and regulations as they see fit.
HUD: Second-hand smoke is more toxic than second-hand vapor
Why is HUD targeting smoking and not vaping? According to the HUD secretary Julian Castro, the agency is trying to protect children and non-smokers from the dangers of second-hand smoke.
"Every child deserves to grow up in a safe, healthy home free from harmful second-hand cigarette smoke…HUD's smoke-free rule is a reflection of our commitment to using housing as a platform to create healthy communities. By working collaboratively with public housing agencies, HUD's rule will create healthier homes for all of our families and prevent devastating and costly smoking-related fires."
By excluding vaping from the new regulations, HUD appears to be implying that second-hand smoke is extremely hazardous to one’s health, but second-hand vapor is not. Current research supports this concept, too. A recent study - which was conducted and published by none other than two scientists hired by Big Tobacco’s Lorillard Tobacco Company – found that traditional tobacco smoke is up to 1,500 times more toxic that e-cig vapor.
HUD seems pro-vaping while FDA considers flavor ban
With just a few months before HUD’s July 2018 deadline to implement the new no-smoking policies, many vapers find it rather curious that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is choosing this same 90-day period to launch an official probe into the possible health risks of flavored tobacco products and e-liquids.
While HUD officials are claiming to be very concerned with the future welfare of its underage residents regarding second-hand smoke (but not vapor), the FDA is simultaneously suggesting that vaping is leading to new generation of smokers and should be further regulated. The two agencies seem to have opposite points of view.
Related Article: Let the games begin! FDA officially launches vaping flavors probe
According to a March 20 press release by FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, the agency is most concerned with menthol tobacco products, but a possible ban on flavored e-liquids is not entirely out of the question. The launching of the 90-day probes is only meant to only solicit “public input” as to whether new anti-vaping regulations need to be created and implemented by the FDA in the future.
“The troubling reality is that e-cigarettes are the most commonly used tobacco product among middle and high school students, and flavors are identified as one of the top three reasons for use. Given these findings, we need to be wary of the role flavors play in attracting youth to initiate on any tobacco product that could lead to regular use – something we clearly want to avoid. No child should use any tobacco products, including e-cigarettes. At the same time, we’re aware that certain flavors may help currently addicted adult smokers switch to potentially less harmful forms of nicotine-containing tobacco products.”
How can HUD officials have a rather indifferent view of vaping while the FDA is continuously targeting the vaping industry for extinction with deeming rules and flavor bans? Gottlieb does not appear to have any significant problems with vaping as a tobacco harm reduction aid, but he apparently has very strong opinions about the selling of vaping products to kids. If that means banning flavored e-liquids for adults too, then so be it.
The vaping advocacy SFATA (Smoke Free Alternatives Trade Association) has issued a Call to Action for all vapers. SFATA urges all vapers to voice their positive opinions and share their life-affirming stories about vaping with the FDA during this 90-day probe. SFATA even provides a pre-written Sample Letter Template to make the process as pain-free as possible.