A Few Thoughts About Vaping Restrictions

It shouldn’t surprise anyone that when you make something illegal to sell you create a black market. Some things should be illegal, but any laws passed should be considered carefully with the realization that enforcement may require force. Eric Garner’s confrontation with police was about selling untaxed cigarettes.

This morning I came across this Slate article by Jacob Grier from last week: “Why Banning Juul Won’t Save Lives.” I’ll not go too far into his arguments, ones I agree with, about the foolhardiness of treating all bads as if they are equally bad. I don’t think vaping is a wise health decision but it is not as harmful as cigarette smoking and pretending it is and overregulating the vaping industry removes a less dangerous vehicle for cessation. I don’t always say this about articles from Slate, but it’s a good read and worth your time.

What strikes me is the bevy of restrictions already in place on vaping and the supposed reasoning behind it. Most states have bans on where vaping is allowed and by whom and while I’ll agree that keeping these products out of the hands the dangers to bystanders appear to be very small, ranging from ”hide the children” to inconclusive to unquantified claim that “you can find the same pollutants from vaping that you will find from everyday activities like cooking or burning a candle.”

Most restaurants I go to engage in cooking. Many of them burn candles on the table as one incident with a clipboard style wine list and a very small fire that was doused with the contents of a single water glass will attest (That incident was kind of messy because I was working as a sommelier at the time for a different restaurant and this insanely qualified and very nice man moves in from California and unveils a new array of bottles at one of the best restaurants in the south and here I come from the competition and light his work on fire – he was never rude to me but I don’t think he ever bought that it was accidental.) But put out the same stuff from a different source and you invite the banhammer? I’m all for taking an overprotective stance regarding kids on an unknown even when it trends towards harmless, but adults capable of choosing all manner of public venues should vote with their feet.

This is an informal blog so I apologize for not sourcing this, but years ago I read more than one article saying that the sight of an adult vaping might temps children to take up smoking themselves. I have a problem with this because it’s not smoking. We don’t ban water in restaurants because a child might mistake an adult drinking a little H2O for a vodka guzzling sot because we recognize that some things that are different may look alike but are not.

Another restriction is that Juul can’t put out any e-cigarette flavor but plain old tobacco. I’m not clear on whether menthol is already out if the FDA is poised to move on that front. The justification is that some moralists insist that flavors like vanilla or cherry are designed to attract minors to the product. That may seem like a good argument to those who presume that all corporations evilly predatory but it doesn’t make sense. It’s okay for a vice to be attractive. That’s why they persist. If you truly believe that flavors are solely to entice children and not please adults then you have a long road ahead of you. Margaritas, Mia Tais, Screwdrivers, and Moscato and countless other alcoholic concoctions all appeal to the love of sweetness.

You may have to wake up very early in the morning to banish this scourge. But you have to think of the children.     

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