The liberal metropolis of San Francisco is considering an attempt to pass a rather conservative vaping ban on all flavored products. Unfortunately, the very idea is drawing the fury of a nonpartisan, nonprofit think tank in Washington, DC which specializes in free markets and limited government regulation.
In a June 7 story posted in the San Francisco Chronical, Steven Greenhut of R Street Institute offers a blunt and not-so-eloquently worded opinion piece on the sheer outlandishness of such a proposal. Greenhut describes the possible vaping ban as a public health policy “that is as Prohibition-oriented as something that might come out of the Deep South.” He then goes on to claim that “it would be a shame to sacrifice public health in service to moral absolutism.”
Vaping vs. smoking: Abstinence is not the answer
The R Street Regional Director believes that supporters of this possible piece of legislation have a stop-smoking mentality along the lines of a Nike Just-Do-It campaign. After all, why do smokers need vaping products anyway when they already have loads of Big Pharma products to help them quit, including “the patch” and nicotine gums and lozenges?
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In a city that was a worldwide pioneer regarding AIDS activism and research - a city which aggressively denounces Puritanical ideologies that state people should just stop having sex if they want to remain AIDS-free - Greenhut believes that San Francisco anti-vaping lobbyists are singing a decidedly different tune regarding vaping vs. smoking.
“In their view, smokers should abstain, or embrace those medically approved cessation devices (gum, patches and prescription drugs) that appeal to only a small number of smokers. The whole approach reminds one of journalist H.L. Mencken’s definition of Puritanism: ‘The haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy.’ Former smokers take pleasure in vaping, as they break the habit. It’s far more enjoyable to sit on the patio and puff an e-cigarette than wear a nicotine patch. That no doubt infuriates the anti-tobacco zealots.”
Greenhut also goes on to compare the public health policies of the United States to those of Great Britain. In the UK, medical professionals actually encourage vaping as a smoking cessation tool. In America, e-cigs are demonized and equated to Big Tobacco cigarettes simply because both products produce a white gaseous substance.
“I admit that I don’t like the flavored bans for a variety of reasons, centered on this libertarian’s belief that adults should be free to make their own decisions, even bone-headedly stupid ones (such as smoking cigarettes). But San Francisco and other cities should be smart and remove vaping from the proposed bans. It would be a shame to sacrifice public health in service to moral absolutism.”
The Not Blowing Smoke organization has also picked up the story and has now created a website called AdultsLikeFlavors.org which specifically opposes the possible San Francisco vaping ban. Meanwhile, the Bay Area’s Board of Supervisors was alleged supposed to hold a first meeting on the issue this week. Stay tuned for more info.
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