This will be one of those posts where my inner libertarian comes closer to the surface. When I see our governments, both local, state, and federal, begin to interject itself into an issue where it should be limited, I can’t help but wonder why they are traveling this route. Case in point would be e-cigarettes.
I venture into this arena with little or not technical or scientific expertise. I know nothing about e-cigarettes except what I have learned from my own research and from watching some of the people I am around during my daily work. At least two men I work with use e-cigarettes. One of them has completely stopped smoking real cigarettes and the other is working on his own complete cessation. I have been around both of them while they are puffing vapors from their e-cigarettes and I can tell you, first hand, there is no such unpleasant stench as is the case with a real cigarette. Both of these men will tell you their e-cigarettes have been good for them.
Scientifically, there is no real proof that the vapors from e-cigarettes are harmful to those who are near when the vapors are inhaled and exhaled. Given what we know about secondhand smoke from real cigarettes, and the tests that have been performed on the vapors that are produced by e-cigarettes, there is every indication that these vapors are, in fact, far less harmful than secondhand smoke. Why, then do our governments seem so intent on banning something that has proven, to more than a few smokers, to be helpful in stopping smoking habits that have spanned decades?
I often wonder if our governments, again, local, state, and federal, are suffering from a insecurity crisis. They want to be “useful” to us, their constituents, so they often do things that work to secure that usefulness. I can not help but wonder if e-cigarettes are not a prime example of government creating a job for itself. This is apparent all over the country, even in conservative Oklahoma. You see, Governor Mary Fallin recently issued an executive order banning the use of e-cigarettes on state property. Here is some of her reasoning behind that order.
The McCarville Report – Documents attempting to explain Governor Fallin’s executive order banning e-cigarettes on state property contain bizarre reasons for the ban.
First, the documents claim their vapor is harmful but admit “much more research is needed” to make a determination.
Second, the documents assert it is necessary because they “look like traditional cigarettes.”
So the ban is based on little research and the way e-cigarettes look.
Here’s what the state document says:
Why can’t e-cigarettes and vapor products be used on state property? Isn’t the vapor just water vapor?
There are two primary concerns related to the use of vapor products outdoors on state property. First, these products are relatively new, and much more research is needed on the potential impact for users and bystanders. Research has shown that the vapor is notjust water vapor – ecigarettes and vapor products still release nicotine and toxic chemicals into the air. Citizens in Oklahoma have come to expect clean air in most places, and the use of ecigarettes and vapor products results in less clean air than currently experienced on state property.
The second concern is related to social norms and public perception of smoking prevalence. Many ecigarettes look like traditional cigarettes and emit a vapor that looks like traditional cigarette smoke. Research shows that teens that see tobacco use in their homes or public places in their community may come to see smoking as a normal part of adult behavior. Since many state agencies offer services to families and youth, it is important to maintain social norms that protect youth from exposure to tobacco use of any kind on state property or by state employees while providing services to Oklahomans.
Mike McCarville is not the only person questioning the wisdom and reasoning behind Governor Fallin’s decision to ban e-cigarettes on state property. There is also the question of the implicit recommendation for harmful drugs that are used to help some people stop smoking. Couple that with the fact that Fallin’s order is based, in part, on a very suspect interpretation of a research study on e-cigarettes performed by the Oklahoma State Department of Health.
AxXiom for Liberty – One faulty point that Fallin uses to justify the need for a ban is the result of an embarrassing misreading of existing e-cigarette research by the Oklahoma State Department of Health. Executive Order 2013-43 states that secondary e-cigarette vapor contains formaldehyde.
The actual research that the Oklahoma State Department of Health is basing this claim on (see footnotes for their sources) did show a minute increase in formaldehyde that began when the subjects entered the testing room and BEFORE they even began using the e-cigarette.
In the study cited by OSDH the researchers themselves note that the increase in formaldehyde “might be caused by the person in the chamber itself, because people are known to exhale formaldehyde in low amounts”
If you want to know more about this, Dr. Farsalinos, a Greek cardiologist and researcher does a great job covering the actual findings of the German study that Fallin and the OSDH are basing their formaldehyde claims on here.
There is one other reason why I suspect e-cigarettes are under attack by governments everywhere. In the midst of a long piece by The Huffington Post, I found this piece of information. Listed as one of nine terribly disturbing things about e-cigarettes is the fact that they are not taxed in the same manner as normal cigarettes. It is no big secret that the tobacco companies are taxed in extraordinary fashion. I suppose this is how they must pay for their sins against public health. Is it possible that some governments see e-cigarettes as a threat to their coffers? Maybe they are seeking to be proactive in their search for new fees and taxes to increase their funding?
In no way am I condoning smoking cigarettes, electronic or real. I believe the Bible teaches a person to be careful about what they allow in their bodies. Smoking tobacco, especially with the additives that are inserted in the manufacturing process, has been proven to be harmful to your health. The nicotine contained in e-cigarettes is a poison to the human body and can be fatal in small doses. There is substantial proof, however, that e-cigarettes have been helpful for some smokers to stop smoking completely. If that works for them, then I see e-cigarettes as a helpful tool.
This is where my inner libertarian comes to the surface. I believe the Bible teaches us against smoking, drinking alcohol, and even overeating. This is because of the harm that all of them can do to the human body. I also believe in personal liberty and freedom. A person should be free to choose what we do with their body. God even allows that. He does not force us to abide by his rules. We are given choices and will face the consequences of those choices in the judgement. Should government not, at least, give us the same choice?
I can fully understand the decision that has been made to ban smoking tobacco products in so many public places. Secondhand smoke is a real and viable danger to public health. Extending the ban to e-cigarettes makes me wonder what the real motive is behind the attack on e-cigarettes. All of this is food for thought. I am more than a little interested to hear what you, my readers, have to say on this burgeoning issue.