Maine is the latest casualty in the war on ecigarettes. Last month, state legislators voted to include ecigarettes in prohibitions that ban smoking in public places. Now ecig users are left out in the cold without the right to vape in public parks, restaurants, or shopping malls. Maine legislators might be happy with the new rules, but public policy experts believe the bans are a tragic mistake.
Christopher Snowdon, director of lifestyle economics for the Institute of Economic Affairs, spoke out in opposition to the anti-ecig policy. “No credible evidence has ever been produced to justify vaping bans on the grounds of health to bystanders,” he said. “The vapor from e-cigarettes is indistinguishable from air, as far as health is concerned. Any authorities that ban vaping on grounds of secondhand vapor are pandering to hypochondria.”
Snowdon believes that a ban of ecigs has nothing to do with protecting public health. Legislators are focused on an ulterior motive – boosting the state’s tobacco tax revenue. “E-cigarettes and other safer nicotine products have the potential to virtually eradicate smoking within a generation. This would leave a serious hole in state budgets, so it would not be surprising if they start taxing e-cigarettes.”
Nathan Strout from the Maine Heritage Policy Center agreed with Snowdon. “While e-cigarettes and traditional cigarettes may seem similar to a casual observer, equating them ignores the vast differences between the two products,” he explained. “Anyone who claims e-cigarettes are just as bad for you as traditional cigarettes clearly has no understanding of how e-cigarettes work and the research that has been done on them.”
Strout said the recent ban on ecigs is just another example of how legislators are failing to take issues seriously. Instead of looking at scientific facts and independent research, they base major decisions on what might be popular on election day. “Some state legislators never take time to do their research, instead choosing to take hyperbolic and misleading headlines at face value.”
Do you think ecigarettes should be banned in public places? Does it bother you when people use an ecig in places where smoking is banned?