What Does Banning E-Cigarettes Accomplish?

The following guest post was written by Alton. All opinions are solely those of the author.  This post was written prior to the introduction of FDA regulations.  Don’t forget if you’d like to write a guest post, I’m all ears.

e-cigarette banAs of April 9th 2014 Boise, Idaho city employees were banned from using their electronic cigarettes while at work. The ban isn’t particularly surprising as Boise joins a long list of cities

banning e-cigarette usage in one form or another. Some cities have much stricter bans in place, such as New York City where e-cigarettes are effectively banned from the same places traditional smoking is banned (which include many public places such as parks and restaurants). The New York City ban went into effect April 29.

What has many e-cig users and vapers frustrated is the seemingly hapless equation of e-cigs to conventional tobacco cigarettes by the powers that be.

Is it a lack of understanding on the part of city councils’ or is it something more? In most cases, these bans on using e-cigs in public spaces also include laws banning the sale of e-cigs and vaporizers (along with the associated paraphernalia) to minors. Some laws cut the age off at 18 while others stretch it to 21.

Banning the sale to minors, at least on paper, seems much more reasonable than banning the use of e-cigs in public, but it’s based on the same premise of e-cigs somehow being similar or related to other tobacco products.

Banning the sale of e-cigs to minors was inevitable and completely unsurprising, though many are question those reasons too. The colors of vaping liquids are being called ‘too’ colorful and many flavors are criticized for being sweet, fruity, or candy-like. Both are considered enticing to minors. Much of it is a reflection of the heavy criticism the tobacco industry received for its flavored cigarettes.

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Is there potential for use by minors?

The answer is obvious. Of course—but this ‘fear’ shouldn’t be the driving force behind such bans. You could remove the sweet flavors and minors would try it regardless. Common sense dictates this.

Unfortunately, common sense only extends so far.

Some of these city councils and officials who are behind the push for these bans often do equate vaporizing liquid or juice (which may or may not contain nicotine) with smoking, even though they are very different activities in terms of both health and what’s physically occurring. In Boise, the ban simply lumped vaping in with smoking, as an activity. They recognize that there is no tobacco involved, but that’s not where the line is drawn.

Rather, it comes down to creating an equalized workplace, along with the issue of personal space. That is, if employees can smoke a cigarette, why should those who use vaporizers get “preferential” treatment? Additionally, people who don’t vape or smoke might not appreciate the vapor exhaled from those who do vape. While the vapor may be odorless water vapor, it can still be irritating and viewed as rude along the same lines as exhaled smoke.

And is that it? Is that what banning the use of e-cigs along the line of conventional cigarettes accomplishes? Equality among those who chose to use these products? A protection of personal space? That’s a distinct possibility, especially as more bans are put into place, and the industry starts seeing significant regulation. It undoubtedly creates a stigma for vapers and the burgeoning e-cig industry and it’s a stigma vapers are going to have to deal with.

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Alton Windham is a part-time writer, part-time traveler, and an e-cigarette enthusiast.  He’s had the opportunity to immerse himself in the vaping community, consulting with Vapor Shark, and exploring the changing vaping landscape.

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