French Guest At White House Vapes Up, Debate Ensues

Klaus Kneale
by Klaus Kneale
February 14, 2014

article-2557654-1B6C9AB200000578-202_634x822Smoking in the White House has been banned since the Clinton Administration.  It was pretty inevitable that at some point, someone would use an electronic cigarettes in the place.  Although that’s probably already happened, it was also inevitable that eventually someone would do it that was important enough to get away with it and spark up talk about the issue.

That’s what happened this week when a French guest pulled out an electronic cigarette during President Obama’s dinner to welcome French President Francois Hollande.  Benoit Thieulinis is the head of France’s National Digital Council (a committee which debates the societal impact of new technologies).  During the state dinner Thieulinis whipped out an electronic cigarette and started vaping away.

A photo of Thieulinis with his e-cig was taken by Cosmopolitan editor-in-chief Joanna Coles who shared the picture online through Twitter.  Thieulinis even re-shared the picture himself.

This has sparked a debate over whether vaping in the White House is against protocol or reasonable.  An expert on etiquette spoke with the DailyMail about the incident calling Thieulinis’s action “very brazen.”  In particular, she noted that even if he asked a host if it was okay, e-cig use is still smoking and shouldn’t be done in the White House.

European Union FlagsOfficial rules regarding use of electronic cigarettes have not really been handed down in the US.  Few agree on whether smoking bans should apply to them.  The question then arises whether the White House should wade into a debate without a clear right answer — especially with regard to foreign guests who may view anti-e-cig sentiments as backward and unnecessary.

The debate over electronic cigarettes throughout the European Union has been reaching a fever pitch as politicians and experts debate over how best to regulate the devices.  So far, the EU has mostly leaned towards a more progressive approach — having already knocked down some efforts to classify e-cigs as medicine.

What do you think?  Let us know in the comments.


6 Responses to “French Guest At White House Vapes Up, Debate Ensues”

      Brian Gage on February 14th, 2014 3:05 pm

      I’ve heard Obama himself uses eCigs… Apparently Mystic brand…

        George on February 14th, 2014 4:22 pm

        ” e-cig use is still smoking and shouldn’t be done in the White House.”

        No, it’s not smoking. No combustion, hence no smoke. It’s vapor. Juice is heated with an electric element to vaporize the nicotine. Where there’s smoke, there’s fire, and there’s no fire here.

          Rebecca on February 14th, 2014 9:59 pm

          I’m in complete ageement with George’s comment with one exception,…We have no way of knowing if here was even nicotine in the personal vaporizer. And I have to ask, exactly how is one qualified as an ‘expert on ettiquete’?

          I have to think that someone who uses a term such as ‘brazen’ in this day and age is indeed ‘a person ‘who may view anti-e-cig sentiments as backward and unnecessary.’

            Jay on February 16th, 2014 3:58 pm

            Entirely separate from the issue, there is no defined etiquette yet for vaping – precisely the probelm. While it helps draw attention to the issue, is this a good way to do that? And as a diplomat you’re supposed to be sensitive to your hosts and careful not to step into controversy. I suspect he’ll have some explaining to do when he gets home.

              Paula Proctor on February 18th, 2014 9:40 am

              Puffing on an ecig is not smoking.
              He should have asked before whipping it out. Give respect, get respect.

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