The Bungee Jumping Argument
Electronic cigarettes have been around for long enough that we’re starting to see marketing and smoking trends data that would be influenced by their existence if they do have an effect. So far that effect appears to be increasing the frequency at which people attempt to quit smoking. But that doesn’t keep some public health and anti-smoking groups from claiming that electronic cigarettes may cause people to perceive smoking more favorably and make it a more common habit.’
Recently, a town looking to impose all its public smoking bans on electronic cigarettes met some resistance when locals actually pressed the issue and argued that there was no health reason to do so. Opposition to the ordinance actually convinced city regulators to hold off on making a decision in light of these arguments.
But support for the vaping bans came back with a rather frustrating counter argument. Electronic cigarette use looks like smoking, they say, and so if people can use them in areas where smoking is banned, then smokers will think that smoking in those places is okay and smoke there despite the smoking bans.
There’s plenty wrong with this argument. Most importantly, it implies that people can’t tell the difference between the two and won’t understand that the laws have not changed. First, smokers know the difference. Smokers are well acquainted with where they can and cannot smoke. And you would be hard pressed to find a smoker that thinks the same rules apply to smoking and vaping — in fact, that’s what makes e-cigs so successful.
But the other problem with this is what we’ll call the bungee jumping effect. If someone saw people bungee jumping off a bridge and decided to jump off on their own — which is both decidedly illegal and deadly — should the bungee jumpers be held at all accountable or be banned from bungee jumping because of that one individual’s clear misunderstanding of the situation? We hope that the answer is no.
Even if a smoker smokes in a non-smoking area because a vaper just vaped there, that isn’t reasonable justification for imposing vaping bans and vaping fines. This is just another flimsy argument put forward by anyone of the groups or individuals that lack the maturity or sensibility to separate smoking and vaping.
Under the exact same logic, golf carts might lead people to drive a car on a golf course, grills might lead to people setting their houses on fire, and powdered sugar might make people take up cocaine.