Banned On The Run

Posted 2nd December 2014 by Dave Cross
Back in September a husband and wife team from Columbia University released a claim that e-cigs could be a gateway to cocaine and cannabis use. Even though they made the link they couldn’t provide any evidence to support the idea. What is becoming apparent is that legislators don’t need facts; they just need opinions that support their best interests.

“We don’t yet know whether e-cigarettes will prove to be a gateway to the use of conventional cigarettes and illicit drugs, but that’s certainly a possibility,” they said. The “scientists” appeared oblivious that you could supplant illicit drugs with cuddly toys or hot chocolate and it would still make as much sense – much like the following stories.

Councilwomen Latoya Cantrell and Susan Guidry presented New Orleans council with a 25-page anti-smoking ordinance. In a triumph of copy pasting, they have collected incoherent statements from various anti-smoking organisations in an effort to ban all indoor smoking and most outdoor smoking too.

Proposals are that smoking is banned within 25 feet of any window or door of any regulated establishment, any publicly-owned property, any bus or streetcar stop – in fact, banned within 25 feet of anywhere. The ordinance also seeks to include vaping in the same context as smoking and ban that too despite the striking differences and benefits offered by the former.

Owen Courrèges, a New Orleans attorney, said in response: “Even if we elect to ban smoking in casinos and bars, it makes sense to allow smokers to go outside.  It makes sense to exempt cigar bars and hookah lounges.  And it makes sense to ignore e-cigs entirely because the best evidence indicates they’re harmless. But what’s on the table now isn’t reasoned policy; it’s a fanatical manifesto.  It has “crippling doubt” written all over it, and that’s why it needs to be rejected.”

From this Monday, vaping is to be banned everywhere in Ontario where smoking is banned under legislation also seeking to outlaw flavoured tobacco products and menthol cigarettes.

Doctor Scott Wooder, ex-president of the Ontario Medical Association said: “Every day, I see people in my office who are seriously ill or who are dying because of smoking. Flavoured tobacco products are aimed squarely at children and teenagers. Ontario’s doctors welcome this legislation."

The Canadian Convenience Stores Association believes statistics were used improperly while developing the menthol-ban proposal, diverting attention from the real culprit behind youth smoking: inexpensive and easily obtained contraband tobacco.

Public health advocates have trotted out the tired old lies about vaping normalising smoking and being targeted at children. Mark Holland, executive director of the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Ontario added: “This legislation will protect our children and youth from the deadly effects of tobacco use.”

But this week’s prize for most angry and ill-informed person goes to South Africa’s Health Minister, Aaron Motsoaledi.

“If it were up to me, I would outright ban electronic cigarettes and I will fight for it,” he told the Mail & Guardian. “If there is one industry I don’t sympathise with at all it’s the tobacco industry, for the simple reason there is nothing they have contributed to humanity except great damage,” Aaron said.


Referring to the recent increased taxes on cigarettes and limitations on places to smoke, he added: “The tobacco industry sidestepped this and came up with the electronic cigarette. And now they are saying they fall outside the ambit of tobacco regulation because they are not tobacco. We are not going to be fooled.

They are the absolute enemy of the health system. For instance, we will never get rid of tuberculosis as long as smoking is there. So why mustn’t we throw any punches back?”

South Africa currently regulates e-cigarettes as medicines, limiting sale to pharmacies, but this is not enforced in practise. Contrast this with the good news from Germany that a federal court has ruled e-liquid is not a medicinal product.

At least Arizona ought to receive praise for its honesty, the Legislature’s budget analysts have been busy with their calculators and worked out that if vaping products are taxed at the same rate as cigarettes they could rake an extra $6 million a year into the budget. They pointed out that the Legislature could choose a higher rate of tax and raise a whopping $13.5 million. Why? It could be that they care for people; it might be that they have unearthed some vital data regarding the efficacy of e-cigs but it’s probably because Arizona has a $1 billion fiscal deficit.

It’s good to know all of these legislators are informed and acting in the best interests of people’s health.

Top Photo credit: via photopin cc

 Dave Cross
Article by Dave Cross
Freelance writer, physicist, karateka, dog walker