Smoking bans have been popping up across the United States for over a decade now. There is evidence on both sides regarding the harmful affects of second hand smoke. Some studies show that second hand smoke is detrimental to those around the smoker and some studies have shown that with proper air ventilation, second hand smoke is not an issue.
Smoking bans also present a great problem to the free market where these bans are literally dictating what a business owner can and cannot do in their own private business. These bans are beginning to filtrate into private homes and cars.
Smoking is an adult behavior. Just as drinking alcohol and engaging in sexual activity are considered adult behaviors. But as we have learned over the years, shielding children from being educated in making responsible choices once they become adults, only causes children to make irresponsible choices while they are children.
So what do smoking bans really accomplish? Do they really accomplish a greater sense of public health? Do they create a distaste for “big government”? Are smoking bans backwards?
Let’s look at the history of smoking bans, in a nutshell of course. At first, anti-smoking advocates were against smoking inside because of the compact conditions and poor air movement quality. Their concern was that non-smoking workers and patrons could not get away from second hand smoke as it does have a tendency to “sit” in the air. The argument was that workers do not have a choice of where they work so they need to be protected. So they fought to have all smoking pushed outside.
It is here that the private business owners began to feel an infringement upon their rights. The local government is now telling them that they can’t allow the use of a legal product in their privately owned, adult only business.
Smoking then went outside. And business owners reluctantly complied, setting up smoking areas for their patrons, outside and at their own expense.
Then, a few years later, these same advocates were tired of having to walk through the smoke to get into non-smoking establishments so they decided to go after smoking outside. Now, not only are private business owners lacking in their rights, but smokers were also being told that as a smoker, somehow their rights are not equal to those who are non-smokers.
Now, for the non-smoking advocate who may be reading this, please don’t get upset. We definitely see your side of this. Why should someone who has no desire to be engulfed in cigarette smoke have to put up with cigarette smoke? Why should parents have to run quickly through clouds of smoke with their children in order to get past the front doors of one establishment? And for those who have quit smoking and struggle every day to stay on the wagon, why would one want to be subjected to such temptation? Recovering alcoholics are lucky because if they don’t want to go into a bar, they simply don’t have to.
But what would have happened if the anti-smoking advocates had done the exact opposite? What would have happened if their original smoking bans were to restrict all smoking on public streets and only to allow smoking in private businesses that had proper ventilation systems and were physically marked on the entrance that this is a “smoking establishment”? Would we be having the heated debates today that we are? As for the workers in such an establishment; in America they have the right to choose where they work.
One of the arguments busting this “it’s for public health” stance is the electronic cigarette. The electronic cigarette does not use combustion so therefor, does not produce second hand smoke. It produces a vapor which is similar to fog machines that even Disney parades pump into the faces of children, infants and unsuspecting adults, in mass quantities, day after day. All current testing of propylene glycol vapors, which the majority of electronic cigarette vapor is comprised of, actually suggests that these vapors are harmless. Testing done by Dr. Murray Laugensen from Health New Zealand on the e-cigarette found, “Inhaled nicotine in cigarette smoke is over 98% absorbed, and so the exhaled mist of the e-cigarette is composed of propylene glycol, and probably contains almost no nicotine; and no CO.” So why on Earth would these be included in smoking bans?
There is no evidence to date that the second hand vapor of the electronic cigarette can even be compared to the second hand smoke of a tobacco cigarette. Studies have been done since the 1940’s on propylene glycol vapors and even the EPA suggests that propylene glycol is inert with no carcinogen levels upon inhalation, hence it’s use in hospital air sanitizing systems.
The electronic cigarette is being including in smoking bans because the anti-smoking groups have decided that this isn’t about second hand smoke anymore. It is clear from the lack of research as presented on many of their websites, that they haven’t done any scientific research into the electronic cigarette and many do not even appear to have an understanding for the difference between combustion and vaporization. On one site, which we will leave as nameless for now, they state that cigarettes contain 4000 ingredients. No. Tobacco cigarettes do not contain 4000 ingredients. Tobacco cigarettes that are UNLIT contain 599 ingredients according to the CDC and the SMOKE from a tobacco cigarette contains 4000+ ingredients. There is a BIG difference between a lit cigarette and one that is sitting on a table, unlit.
There is also a big difference between vaporization and combustion. Did you know that if you burn incense in your home every day for 20 years, you are being subjected to many of the carcinogens and by products of a burning cigarette? It’s because COMBUSTION produces these harmful by-products which include some of the worst ingredients including carbon monoxide, arsenic, formaldehyde, and so on. VAPORIZATION from the electronic cigarette is not capable of making these types of by-products due to the low rate at which they heat… not burn.
The only reason to include the electronic cigarette in local smoking ordinances is because those against the electronic cigarettes usage in public are against nicotine or against the action of smoking. Both the use of nicotine AND the action of smoking are LEGAL. It’s the by-products of combustion created by a burning tobacco cigarette that should be cause for concern in regards to public health, not the action of smoking nor the intake of nicotine.
For those who are against the use of nicotine and wish to see nicotine prohibition, well, then stop forcing unsuspecting smokers to use the patch, the gum, and the nicotine inhaler and state your position for what it is; a complete banning of the substance.
For those against the action of “smoking”, be careful. Attempting to ban an action is a slippery slope.
And for those who are in this for public health, consider reversing the bans so that smoking occurs in places where adult activities take place. All places should be required to have proper ventilation and the technology is there. All workers should be required to acknowledge they understand they are working in a smoking environment. All establishments should clearly mark on their entrance that smoking is allowed. This reduces the amount of cigarette butts on the street, reduces non-smokers from having interaction with cigarette smoke, and the private business owners are able to continue offering the type of establishment the free market dictates. THIS is a win win smoking ban for all.