To Live and Vape in Framingham
By Steven Miller
Serious discussion needs to be based on fact, not on emotion or hearsay. In a scientific study, you weigh the facts to formulate a conclusion, not to create your own numbers to bolster your beliefs. Sadly, this is exactly what happened when Framigham, Massachusetts chose to regulate electronic cigarettes. The Board of Health voted last week to treat e-cigarettes like tobacco, banning their use on town property and in municipal vehicles. There are also plans to discuss prohibiting use in restaurants, private offices and other places where the state’s Smoke-Free Workplace Law applies.
Anti-smoking laws are put into effect and enforced to protect people from the dangers of smoking and to protect non-smokers from dangerous second-hand smoke. Using anti-smoking laws to regulate vaping is disingenuous at best. The products are apples and oranges. Do they both deliver nicotine? Yes, but that is where the similarities end. A person can travel from New York to California via a horse and buggy or an airplane. Both deliver a person from Point A to Point B but are they the same? The most infuriating part of this attitude is the prohibition of e-cigs is not based on any facts, just a feeling. The arguments against e-cigs being used in public are all emotional.
Recently, the Metro West Daily News published an article covering this possible ban. Their main arguments are flawed. Let’s take a look.
1. E-Cigarettes are a mystery. What is an e cig? According to D.J. Wilson, the Tobacco Control Director with the Massachusetts Municipal Association (MMA), “it has not been totally clearly determined what is being exhaled by the user and what’s in that vapor.” This is a perfect example of a misinformed statement. The truly scary thing is that he is the exact person who should be informed, since he is the Tobacco Control Director. “What’s in that vapor?” What is in the vapor has been discussed ad infinitum. So much so that two paragraphs down in the article that great mystery is solved. The answer to what is in the vapor is propylene glycol, vegetable glycerine, nicotine, water and flavorings. All of these ingredients, as the article points out, are approved by both the F.D.A. and E.P.A.
2. E-Cigarettes scare people. “The Massachusetts Municipal Association helped Framingham write regulations after a man recently started puffing on an e-cigarette in the reference section of the town library – to the horror of other patrons.” So, the MMA was reacting to the “horror” of seeing someone use an e-cigarette. This is a prime example of the emotional appeal taking precedence over fact. The author writes that the patron was horrified; horrified to see something that looks like a cigarette. Not concerned, not confused or curious, but horrified. Is it reasonable to ban a benign action simply because someone doesn’t understand it? I don’t understand rocket science, but I don’t want a ban on people discussing it.
3. E-Cigarettes may lead to people smoking tobacco cigarettes. Another gem from D.J. Wilson, “We don’t want a new generation to start on electronic cigarettes and then switch to tobacco because of their nicotine addiction.” White Cloud Electronic Cigarettes co-founder Matthew Steingraber responds to that thinking with, “Judging by the cost difference and overall experience, switching from an e-cig back to a tobacco cig should happen at a rate similar to that of America suddenly switching from microwaves to 17th century style fireplace cooking. Will it happen? To 0.001% of the population, yes. Should we expect it to show up on the radar? No.”
E-Cigarettes are here to stay. The market and the technology behind them are increasing daily. It’s time to have an honest conversation about their place in society. A real discussion based on facts, not on emotion. When it comes to our health, honesty is paramount. Let’s not obscure the issues with baseless accusations.
This is an article written by Steven Miller, a writer and video producer at White Cloud Electronic Cigarettes.