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The Dominoes Start To Fall

After protracted fighting, the dominoes are beginning to tumble in the United States as bans based on ignorance and lies roll out across the country

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Many predicted that 2019 would be a pivotal year for tobacco harm reduction in the United States. POTV agreed with Clive Bates’ view that bans were inevitable given the volume of bias studies and the lies being spread by funded campaign groups. California’s stupidity has now triggered the toppling of dominoes across the country as Michigan announces its ban.

Legislators in Boulder, Colorado, voted unanimously yesterday to bring forward a vape flavour ban, with an implementation date set for January 2020. In addition, they passed a resolution to implement an “emergency” 40% tax on “electronic smoking devices” on top of the $9 State tax.

The city has no tax on tobacco cigarettes beyond the State tax of 20¢ on a pack of 20.

This situation exists because Boulder City Council conveniently refuses to accept that vaping offers reduced harm over tobacco.

Expert David Sweanor is quoted as responding: “Trying to discourage a harmful behaviour via coercion is not as effective, nor as humane, as doing so through empowerment. Giving people viable alternatives, along with easy access to them, truthful information about them and ‘nudges’ such as significant price differentials is the better route to take.”

It comes at the same time as the State of Michigan proudly announces that it is the first State “to ban on the sale of flavoured e-cigarettes”. The ban would apply to all Brick & Mortar and online sales.

“My number one priority is keeping our kids safe. Right now, companies selling vaping products are using candy flavours to hook children on nicotine and misleading claims to promote the belief that these products are safe,” declared Governor Gretchen Whitmer.

Democrat Whitmer called vaping “a public health emergency", as the supine Republicans announced they would not be opposing the move.

Despite this, some demonstrated they hadn’t lost all control of their faculties. Republican Matt Maddock described the ban as "Orwellian" and said that Whitmer was bent on "dismantling a legal industry”.

He added: “There is no state emergency. The governor can't just outlaw bad habits just because she doesn't like them.”

Whitmer faces a small problem that it doesn’t appear that she has clear authority to drive through such a measure and could consequently be contested in court. Not that this seems to bother her: “As governor, I’m going to do it unilaterally until I can get the legislature to adopt a statute and write it into law. This is too important.”

The Consumer Advocates for Smoke-free Alternatives Association (CASAA) responded by saying, “the executive ban is a hazard to public health”.

The non-profit grassroots consumer organisation went on to state: “Governor Whitmer's ban makes Michigan the first state in the nation to become a breeding ground for black market nicotine products. Just as with the prohibition of alcohol in the 1920's, Michigan stands poised to recreate its Purple Gang, vending truly unknown products with no quality controls or oversight for consumers and placing an enormous burden on enforcement resources the state cannot afford. The public health effects from the rise of tainted products, organized crime, and the likely increase in smoking will end up orders of magnitude greater than what the Governor sees through blinkered eyes as the problem.”

Alex Clark, CASAA's CEO, said: “Governor Whitmer is leaping to the prohibition endgame without considering the dramatic negative effect this will have on Michigan's public health. This regulation will shut down vapor shops that are a source of expert instruction and peer-to-peer support among people switching to smoke-free alternatives.”

"While many believe that banning flavoured vapor products will protect adolescents, it is more likely that prohibition of this magnitude will, instead, hand the marketplace over to underground manufacturers. If there was any policy that would make these products more risky [sic], a flavour ban is at the top of the list. As Michigan and surrounding states are grappling with a mysterious lung disease attributed to illicit THC/cannabis oil cartridges, it is astonishing that any government official would think the state can ban its way out of an increase in youth use.”

American Heart Association’s Nancy Brown embodies the lies and misdirection that sits at the core of opposition to harm reduction in the States. She said: “We know shockingly little about the health impact of e-cigarettes being widely marketed to youth and adults. The recent outbreak of respiratory illnesses associated with e-cigarette use has only added to the uncertainty and increased the need for immediate action.”

The bans will not stop here; more cities and states will repeat the abject nonsense we’ve heard repeatedly in the past – they will trot out research produced by the likes of serial charlatan Stanton Glantz to justify their moves – but the truth of the matter is that they are doing it for financial not health reasons.

As the dominos fall, as the clouds gather and darken, the United States will sacrifice the lives of smokers on an altar of lies. One day, truth will out and evidence will demonstrate how corrupt these legislators were – but it will come too late for those who were denied alternative nicotine products and kept smoking.

Dave Cross avatar

Dave Cross

Journalist at POTV
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Dave is a freelance writer; with articles on music, motorbikes, football, pop-science, vaping and tobacco harm reduction in Sounds, Melody Maker, UBG, AWoL, Bike, When Saturday Comes, Vape News Magazine, and syndicated across the Johnston Press group. He was published in an anthology of “Greatest Football Writing”, but still believes this was a mistake. Dave contributes sketches to comedy shows and used to co-host a radio sketch show. He’s worked with numerous vape companies to develop content for their websites.

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