December 20 2013
No Smoking Here
Patrice J. Lee
He got his way. In an update to a story we reported on over the summer, Nanny State Mayor Bloomberg succeeded with his crusade against food and lifestyle vices to get e-cigarettes banned from indoor public spaces before he leaves office. This Christmas the electronic devices join their tobacco counterparts on the naughty list.
A CBS affiliate reports:
The New York City Council approved legislation Thursday to ban the use of electronic cigarettes from indoor public spaces where smoking is already prohibited.
E-cigarettes have been endorsed by celebrities, marketed in multiple flavors and are soaring in popularity.
Under the bill, e-cigarettes would be prohibited in the same places as traditional cigarettes and other tobacco products throughout the city.
The ban would go into effect in four months, CBS 2′s Sonia Rincon reported. Businesses and restaurants would have another six months to put up signs indicating there is no smoking or “vaping” allowed.
City Council Speaker Christine Quinn said the ban would make it easier to enforce the city’s Smoke-Free Air Act, which banned smoking in bars, restaurants and other indoor public spaces.
“Because many of the e-cigarettes are designed to look like cigarettes and be used just like them, they can lead to confusion or confrontation,” Quinn said.
Some counties in New York have gone as far as to ban smoking outdoors in public spaces. That is extremely limiting and not everyone is pleased.
As we’ve noted in the past, the ban on e-cigarettes is questionable if promoting health is the reasoning. They don’t pose concerns for second-hand smoke and according to the World Health Organization the risks are undetermined. The Americans Association of Public Health Physicians actually recommends them as a way of weaning off traditional cigarettes.
With e-cigarettes, two of the concerns appear to be that they can lead smokers to progress to traditional cigarettes and it may be difficult to distinguish them from traditional cigarettes which are not permitted in doors. But where is the evidence? Can health officials demonstrate that smoking them fast tracks a person to becoming addicted to traditional cigarettes? Can officials point to instances of widespread confusion or confrontation? How many bar fights have been started over them?
To the confusion point, companies can repackage e-cigarettes so they look less like traditional ones, perhaps by using neon paper or changing the shape of the barrels. Coupled with a public education campaign, I see that as a non-issue.
With no evidence of serious health concerns, proponents are making a Chicken Little argument but that is inadequate.
Banning e-cigarettes is a demonstration of Nanny State policymakers trying to control the behavior of regular Americans. They think they know what’s best for society and usurp the private decisions of individuals, families, organizations and businesses. That doesn’t strike me as the proper role of government. Does it to you?