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Alaska removes vaping from controversial anti-smoking legislation

The Alaska House Rules Committee voted last week in favor of a revised bill that now specifically excludes vaping from a proposed statewide ban on workplace smoking.  Committee chairperson Representative Gabrielle LeDoux (R, District 15) allowed the proposal to move forward after being stalled in the review process for the majority of the 2018 legislative session.  Last year, the state senate approved the previous form of legislation that included vaping under the umbrella of a tobacco products classification similar to that of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).  The revised version now excludes both vaping and marijuana products.

What changed their collective minds?  Apparently, a recent article in the Annual Review of Public Health had a lot to do with the change of heart. Published in the National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health (NCBI), the article urges public officials to correct misinformation campaigns about e-cigarettes that is currently plaguing the general public.

“Inhalation of the toxic smoke produced by combusting tobacco products, primarily cigarettes, is the overwhelming cause of tobacco-related disease and death in the United States and globally. A diverse class of alternative nicotine delivery systems (ANDS) has recently been developed that do not combust tobacco and are substantially less harmful than cigarettes. ANDS have the potential to disrupt the 120-year dominance of the cigarette and challenge the field on how the tobacco pandemic could be reversed if nicotine is decoupled from lethal inhaled smoke.”

Related Article:  Vaping will save 3.3 million years of life by 2070, says new study

The decision to extract vaping and electronic cigarettes from the controversial bill is considered a major win for the vaping community.  Since the release of the FDA deeming regulations in May 2016, advocates of tobacco harm reduction have long argued that conflating vapor products with combustible tobacco is detrimental to public health.   

“I’ve got some questions about this entire bill.  But, nevertheless, in order to extend an olive branch to the people who really want this bill, (she is) trying to get this bill in a reasonable form so that we can get it to the floor.”   -LeDoux  per Alaska Public Media

 

The Alaskan compromise is a good sign for vapers, but at the other end of the spectrum lies states like Florida which is currently attempting to ban vaping in all areas where smoking is prohibited.  The Florida Constitution Revision Commission led by State Senator Lisa Carlton (R, 70th District) wants to pass an amendment to the state constitution to reclassify e-cigs as a tobacco product just like the FDA.  Carlton and her supporters seem to be primarily concerned with second-hand vapor, often equating it to the second-hand smoke from combustible cigarettes. 

“I think it’s time to clean up our restaurants, our malls, our movie theaters, so we can all breathe clean air again, which is what the 2002 constitutional amendment intended.”  - Carlton

 

Even though there are realms of scientific evidence indicating that vaping is up to 95 percent less harmful than smoking, The Herald Tribune predicts that the Florida constitutional amendment will likely pass.   Meanwhile, an editorial published just last month calls the proposed vaping ban “premature” and almost villainous. 

“Carlton’s idea will likely pass because smokers of any stripe make good villains. But that should not be the standard.  Here’s a radical idea: before we ban a perfectly legal product and shun its users, let’s fully understand the health risks. That might take time. Meanwhile, and if necessary, leave it to individual companies to decide whether their employees and customers should be subjected to the perils Carlton sees in the puff of a vaper’s smoke.”

Florida versus Alaska:  The War on Vaping continues

The extreme differences in opinions regarding the real or imagined dangers of vaping are evident in the proposed and contradictory legislative stances of these two states located on opposite sides of the country.  Alaska seems to be taking a more empathetic approach based on scientific evidence while Florida officials are still behind-the-times regarding the latest vaping research.  Unfortunately, voters can no longer rely on politicians to pass laws based on facts.  In this age of Trumpism, facts seem to no longer matter. 

Related Article: Search warrant issued to Florida Vape Shop ‘Up in Smoke’

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