According to a Reuters article, France is set to ban electronic cigarette use in public places even though it is not aware of any scientific evidence that these products harm bystanders. Apparently, France will ban electronic cigarette use in these places simply because of uncertainty over the precise nature of potential, unproven risks.
The other justification given for banning vaping in public
places is that it mimics smoking and COULD lead to smoking initiation: "'This
is no orlarldinary product because it encourages mimicking and could
promote taking up smoking,' said Touraine, who announced her plans at a
According to the article: "France will ban
electronic cigarette smoking in public places by imposing the same curbs
enforced since 2007 to combat tobacco smoking, Health Minister Marisol
Touraine said on Friday. Amid mounting global concern
over the public health implications of so-called e-cigarettes, Touraine
said they faced the same fate as traditional ones: a ban on smoking in
public spaces and sales to minors and a blackout on media advertising. ... The
near-odorless electronic alternative - battery-driven devices that allow
users inhale odorless nicotine-laced vapor rather than smoke - are
gaining ground in no-go zones such as bars, cafes, trains, waiting rooms
and offices. A
government-commissioned report said this week that around 500,000 people
in France had turned to e-cigarettes, which are designed to look like
cigarettes although some come in different colors, and recommended a
crackdown on public use."
The Rest of the Story
My feeling is that the government should not use coercive
interventions – such as bans – unless there is strong scientific evidence that
a substantial public health problem exists. So far, I have seen no data to
suggest that “passive vaping” represents any significant hazard. I think there
needs to be more than just pure speculation for the government to take coercive
action. The French government presents absolutely no evidence that secondhand
vaping represents a public health threat.
The second justification given for the vaping ban is that it might encourage mimicking and could - hypothetically - promote smoking initiation. But again, there is absolutely no evidence that this is the
case. Two large studies have had difficulty finding any substantial number of youth nonsmokers who regularly use electronic cigarettes, despite their presence on the market for at least six years and despite the fact that youth experimentation with this product has already occurred.
Pure speculation should not stand as a valid basis for coercive
government action, in my opinion.
The same justification used by the French government - pure speculation - is also being used by Dr. Stan Glantz to promote a ban on electronic cigarette use in public places in California. On a KQED radio segment about California legislation to ban e-cigarette use in public places, Dr. Glantz defended the legislation by speculating that there "might" be a slight risk associated with these products. But he presented no evidence that as actually used, they pose any threat to bystanders.
In my opinion, these efforts to pass coercive legislation based on pure speculation - devoid of any scientific evidence of risk or harm - undermine the integrity of public health. What these anti-smoking advocates - such as Dr. Glantz - are admitting is that they would support 100% smoke-free laws even if there were no scientific evidence that secondhand smoke is harmful.
I'm not willing to adopt that position. My support for smoking bans is based on the substantial scientific evidence demonstrating that it is a significant public health hazard that is causing suffering, disease, and death.
Dr. Glantz' and others' support for banning vaping in public places without any evidence of risk or harm undermines the integrity of public health because it indicates that we would be willing to ban smoking in public places even in the absence of evidence that it is harmful. I believe that there needs to be a higher standard for coercive government action.