Vaping’s reputation as ‘safe’ alternative is rapidly eroding
Vaping has been a growth business in the first years of this century, largely because e-cigarettes were successfully sold as a safer alternative to smoking.
Up until very recently, that is.
The toll keeps rising
As of Dec. 4, the Centers for Disease Control had received reports of 2,291 cases of people hospitalized in connection with vaping. The CDC has also counted 47 deaths from the illness associated with use of e-cigarettes. And it’s not just the vaping. E-cigarette batteries have been known to explode, causing injuries and even death.
This is making everyone re-evaluate, including the insurance industry.
Insurance blogger Tim Fletcher, in a post headlined “E-Cigarettes and Vaping – The Growing Hazardous Plume for P/C Insurers,” suggested that insurers review their small commercial retail clients – such as convenience stores, gas stations, and liquor stores – to determine whether any are selling e-cigarettes.
Then there’s the big question for individual users of the products – will this new habit cause your health, life and long-term care insurance premiums soaring? Increasingly, the answer appears to be yes. Already – before all the recent alarming headlines – many major insurance companies had made little distinction between being a vaper and being a smoker.
We’ve been here before
Perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised. We’ve been here before.
You may be too young to remember (most people are), but cigarettes were once lauded as harmless, or even good for your health. Cigarette manufacturers flourished through the first half of the 20th century. Then, in 1964, the U.S. Surgeon General issued a report linking smoking to lung cancer.
Still, things didn’t change overnight. But over the course of a couple of generations, cigarette smoking has declined dramatically. We know the risks, and most of us have acted accordingly. Meanwhile, those smokers left behind by this trend have seen higher life insurance rates.
A moving target
Obviously, this is a moving target, with new information coming in every day. But by now, almost no one sees vaping as a completely safe alternative to smoking.
What should you do – as a business looking out for the health of your employees or as a retailer deciding whether to carry such products? Speak to our experienced professional brokers in our commercial and employee benefits divisions, and they can help steer you toward answers.