NYC Council Votes on E-Cigarette Ban Today

Today the New York City Council
to vote on an ordinance that would ban the use of
electronic cigarettes in bars, restaurants, office buildings,
parks, and other public places, despite the complete absence of
evidence that they pose a hazard to bystanders. Yesterday the
council’s Committee on Health unanimously approved the ban,
apparently swayed by arguments like this:

“Manufacturers of the devices are really in the addiction
business,” said City Councilman James Gennaro of Queens. “This is
what they’re selling. They’re selling addiction. They’re selling in
flavors like cotton candy, Cap’n Crunch, and all these flavors that
appeal to kids. This is what this is about.”

It’s a little hard to decipher exactly what the “this” is that
this is about. But I gather that Gennaro, the main sponsor of the
ban, worries that electronic cigarettes will be a gateway to
smoking for teenagers, even though there is no evidence that is
happening. In fact, the recent increase in e-cigarette use by
teenagers, which has been
among smokers, has been accompanied by a
continued decline
in cigarette consumption.

Gennaro previously has
he worries that kids will mistake e-cigarettes for the
conventional kind, conclude that smoking must be cool again, and
proceed directly to a pack-a-day habit that will threaten their
health and shorten their lives. There is no evidence to support
that concern either, but who needs evidence when children’s lives
are at stake?

In seeking to protect hypothetical children from an utterly
speculative hazard, Gennaro punishes actual adults who have
switched from smoking to vaping, thereby dramatically reducing the
health risks they face. He also discourages others from following
their example by eliminating an important advantage that
e-cigarettes currently enjoy. The predictable result will be more,
not less, smoking-related disease and death.

Although Reuters
the e-cigarette ban an “anti-tobacco” measure, that is an
odd way to describe it, since e-cigarettes contain no tobacco and
generate no combustion products. If anything, Gennaro’s bill is a
pro-tobacco measure that will encourage people to consume their
nicotine along with myriad toxins and carcinogens rather than
choosing a much cleaner method.

The general public seems to be much more sensible about such
matters than the members of the New York City Council. In the
latest Reason-Rupe Public
Opinion Survey
, 62 percent of respondents said the government
should let people use e-cigarettes in public. 

from Hit & Run

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