Florida citizens will vote on a combined ban that could mean serious problems for the vaping industry
With the upcoming election barely a month away Florida voters are facing a decision that will have significant repercussions. Months ago the Florida Constitution Revision Commission met and, after extensive debate, decided the issue of a possible vaping ban would be added to the November ballot. The commissioners however made a controversial choice in how the issue was to be put to the people.
Instead of letting the issue of a vaping ban stand on its own for the public to decide, the vaping ban was lumped into a grouping the commissioners refer to as “clean air, clean water” issues. The vaping ban will be decided on in conjunction with a ban proposed on coastal drilling. Both industries have criticized this choice, but the state’s commision has stood on its decision, leaving Florida voters with a tough choice.
Two Separate Issues
The proposed ban would be an amendment to Florida’s 2002 tobacco control law, which prevents public smoking. Commissioner Lisa Carlton led the charge against vaping. Despite a lack of evidence, she has stated multiple times that she believes vaping is as dangerous as smoking and therefore deserves strict regulations.
Critics of the proposed reform point to the fact that the original 2002 law was passed with decades of research supporting it. Even some of vaping’s staunchest opponents, like former Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy, admit that there is not substantial evidence that vaping is anywhere near as harmful as smoking.
On the other end of the decision voters face, the drilling industry has been working to get approval to drill in Florida’s coastal waters. President Trump has stated his support for oil and gas drilling in waters around the country. The Interior Secretary, back in January, said that Florida would not be a part of these proposed drillings, upsetting many other states who also invest in coastal tourism.
The Joint Amendment
These two rather disparate issues make for a complicated issue for voters to decide upon. Either both vaping and offshore drilling will be allowed to take place in Florida, or neither will. Many voters who believe in one or the other are forced to decide if it is worth the price. The industries involved both find themselves at a disadvantage as well. The drilling industry does not want to be equated with vaping, which is continually spurned by lobbyists and the media. The vaping industry is forced to be at odds with people who want to preserve their coastal waters. Both issues are significant to many different groups of people, making the debate and decision all the more difficult.
Shortly after the decision was made to put these issues to vote, David Mica, the head of the Florida Petroleum Council, issued a press release condemning the commision for their decision. Mica said the joining of the issues “will force Florida’s voters to vote for or against two completely unrelated, but important issues at the same time.” He continued to say “this decision, made without any public debate, could harm jobs, the state economy, tax revenues, and our long-term energy future.” The committee stood their ground again with Brecht Heuchan, of the Commission’s Style and Drafting Committee, claiming “If anything went together, it was those two.” Whether or not it’s fair to either industry or, more importantly, the people of Florida, voters will decide the fate of both industries existence within their state next month.
While the circumstances are awful, the reality of the situation stands. Floridians must weigh the future of vaping against the future of their coastal waters. The Commission has held its ground, and the decisions will be made as one.
Slating vaping as an environmental issue is more accurate than not, but the commision has it slated in the wrong way. Vaping has been proven as a harm reduction tool for direct users and in second-hand circumstances as well. A study out of the University of California found that even with indoor usage of vaporizers the air quality of a home is indistinguishable from a home that allows neither smoking or vaping.
For direct users vaping has been found, by Public Health England, to be 95% safer than combustible cigarettes. The University of Louisville, testing against other smoking cessation methods like nicotine patches, gums, and prescriptions, found that vaping was the most effective in helping people to quit, and stay off smoking.
Public acceptance and understanding of vaping, however, is very low, with only 13% of the population knowing correctly that vaping is safer than smoking. Sensationalized media coverage and rumors spread by anti-vaping lobbyists taint vaping’s image and discourage many who would benefit from their use.
Floridian voters face a tough decision this election. It is vital that more people across the country be educated on the relative safety and health benefits that former smokers could gain so that this sort of ill-informed pairing does not happen elsewhere.
Is it fair for both issues to be voted on as one? What do you think vapers in Florida should do? What’s the best way to improve the public perception of vaping? Let us know what you think in the comments, and don’t forget to check back here or join our Facebook and Twitter communities for more news and articles.