Tobacco crackdowns target e-cigarettes, despite their lack of secondhand dangers, raising questions about the basis of current bans
Under what legal grounds could San Francisco's government have the right to ban e-cigarette usage in public places if they are proved harmless? If the legislation passes, residents of non-smoking apartments would be unable to legally vape a scentless, allegedly toxin free e-cigarette in the privacy of their own home.
FEDS AND E-CIGS
In March the FDA appointed Mitch Zeller as the new director of the Center for Tobacco Products. According to his FDA profile, Zeller, a lifelong proponent of FDA tobacco regulation, has deep-rooted ties to the anti-smoking movement and is currently an executive of a pharmaceutical consulting firm working closely with sellers of FDA approved, nicotine-replacement pharmaceuticals.
But Zeller has openly advocated the idea of harm reduction through nicotine-replacement systems, much more than his predecessor, Dr. Lawrence Deyton. So hope may yet exist for the plight of vapers who don't want to be lumped in with smokers. So much of the anti-smoking conversation is drenched in black-and-white thinking, promoting a system of total abolition over harm reduction. Unfortunately for smokers, this could impede their transition to a safe nicotine delivery system that they can use virtually anywhere, and one that may consequently help save lives. As of now, public discourse and education may act as the most important catalyst toward a widespread understanding of e-cigarettes.
For anyone who has seen an e-cigarette, the soft glow of the LED light at the end has little resemblance to a traditional cigarette, which is on fire and emitting a cloud of noxious smoke. If an FDA approved, emission-free e-cigarette eventually hits the market, users in San Francisco could still face a loss of freedom solely backed by the ideological social standards of the anti-smoking movement, which would bar them from vaping in public. But for now, San Francisco's vapers should enjoy their freedom while it lasts.
CORRECTION: This article was corrected to change the chemical name in Conley's quote from propylene glycol and to clarify that the FDA studied the liquid in e-cigarettes, not their emissions.