The New Anti-Vaping Rules Are Making My Life with Schizophrenia Harder
Allie Burke, Vice
After ten years of smoking a pack a day, plus two years without nicotine after quitting cold turkey—at which point, under major stress, I had myself committed to a mental institution—I picked up an electronic vaping device and haven't looked back. For three years, despite inflating prices and negative press about the culture of people who vape, vaping has been my most viable means of daytime survival.
Without nicotine and coffee, it is extremely difficult—near impossible—to survive a full-time day job while medicated. I would be slurring my words, struggling to focus, falling asleep at my desk, and failing to remember to do something my boss told me to do five minutes earlier. In other words, I would be fired.
There's a lot of controversy around the safety of vaping, but it can't be worse than smoking, and this way I no longer have to smell like an ashtray. So I choose it as an alternative, in an effort to achieve some semblance of normalcy. I will continue to choose it, no matter how difficult it may become to continue vaping.
Last Thursday, in response to the rising number of American teens using electronic smoking devices, or e-cigarettes, officials from the FDA announced sweeping new rules that will extend federal regulations to the entire vaping industry. Manufacturers will now be required to submit all products for FDA approval—a costly process that some suppliers say will put them out of business.
Of course, there are a handful of companies that have the means to go through the federal approval process, and perhaps prevent the total death of vaping. But it's likely that smaller vape companies—and therefore many vape shops—will fail as a result of the new regulations. In fact, that seems to be the FDA's goal: to regulate by minimizing the number of vape shops that exist; Mitch Zeller, head of the FDA's Center for Tobacco Products, told USA Today last week that he "expects consolidation in the number and type of products and vape shops."
Aside from the sheer inconvenience I'll experience if my local vape shop closes, consolidation of e-cigarette manufacturers will likely lead to an increase in prices. I also worry that the downsizing will limit the development of new products, and the improvement of available ones.
You would think that some consideration would be given to the quality of life of those who need this stimulant in order to not pass out at our desks. But no one seems to be thinking about us. No one has tried to make it easier for schizophrenics to access vaping in light of the oncoming regulations; attempts to use nicotine in pharmaceuticals have been rare, even though there's abundant evidence that it can help with a variety of illnesses.