As vaping expands in popularity, it has raised a series of questions. Because the technology and practice are so new and has become popular only relatively recently, the answers to these issues are still up in the air. One of the major questions that people want to know is if they are “tobacco free” if they vape.
This question has some urgency for all interested parties because, in America, tobacco use is one of the few metrics that insurance companies can use to determine your health insurance rates. With the passage of Obamacare and its accompanying insurance mandate, the issue of health insurance costs has become a growing concern within the American populace.
That said, there are no formal rules or regulations(although there is new FDA ENDS regulations) that determine how vapers should be classified. The lack of these things has some problems, and it also has some potential benefits for vapers.
First the problems. Insurance companies are currently free to determine their policies on whether or not vaping counts as tobacco use. As a result, nearly all of them do, as they can charge more for providing health insurance to a tobacco user than a non-user. Therefore, companies have an incentive to classify vapers as tobacco users.
However, not all insurance companies consider vaping to be tobacco use. Prudential considers vapers to be smoke-free customers. This fact leads us to the good news.
Because the technology and practice are so new there are not enough studies to persuasively convince the government or the scientific community that vaping is dangerous or not dangerous. This means that if, as many vapers suspect, science will show that vaping is not dangerous, then rules can be crafted around that science. Should the rules be crafted right now, vapers would be at a severe disadvantage, as the government or relevant regulatory bodies would likely come down on the side of tobacco use. This could change quickly if insurance companies realize that vaping is an effective smoking cessation tool and thus helps out their bottom line.
In summary, there are currently no regulations that describe vaping as tobacco use, nor are there any definitions that classify it as not tobacco use. As a result, companies can set their own policies. Most classify it as tobacco use, although not everyone. Giving science more time to study the effects of vaping before making formal rules on the issue gives vaping time to demonstrate its benefits and potentially move from being considered tobacco use to not being considered tobacco use.