Tuesday, April 15, 2014

New York State Senator Wants to Ban Most Electronic Cigarettes, While Keeping the Toxic Real Ones

New York State Senator Kemp Hannon has introduced legislation that would ban most electronic cigarettes, including both the rechargeable and modular types, while keeping toxic tobacco cigarettes on the market.

Senate Bill 6939 would ban the sale of all electronic cigarette liquids. Under the proposed law, an e-liquid is defined as "A LIQUID COMPOSED OF NICOTINE AND OTHER CHEMICALS, AND WHICH IS SOLD AS A PRODUCT THAT MAY BE USED IN AN ELECTRONIC CIGARETTE."

By this definition, it would be illegal to sell not only the e-liquids used in modular electronic cigarettes, but also the refill cartridges used in rechargeable electronic cigarettes. Thus, this legislation would remove from the market a huge chunk of the electronic cigarettes that are currently sold in New York State. Only disposable electronic cigarettes would remain, and it is unclear if even these would be allowed to be sold, since they do contain "a liquid composed of nicotine and other chemicals" that is "used in an electronic cigarette." Thus, it is conceivable that this legislation would ban the sale of all electronic cigarettes in the state of New York.

The Rest of the Story

If the goal here were to simply protect children and infants from accidentally ingesting nicotine, then Senator Hannon could simply have introduced legislation to require childproof packaging and warning labels on these products. Instead, it appears that the goal is actually to protect the sale of cigarettes in New York by eliminating competition from a rapidly proliferating smoking cessation product that is projected to give tobacco cigarettes a run for their money.

It makes no sense, from a public health perspective, to ban a product which is almost uniformly used by smokers in an effort to quit smoking or significantly reduce the amount of cigarette consumption, while at the same time, to sanction the sale of the real thing: deadly cigarettes. What Senator Hannon is saying is that he would rather have smokers continue to smoke cigarettes than quit smoking with the aid of a much safer alternative product.

If Senator Hannon were truly committed to protecting the health of children in New York, he would propose banning the sale of cigarettes, which are the primary source of nicotine poisoning among New York residents. Why ban the non-tobacco cigarettes which are helping thousands of smokers get off cigarettes, while leaving the real ones on the market to continue to kill New York residents?

This bill would serve to protect the profits of Big Tobacco. Most troublesome is the fact that it would protect the sale of the most toxic market segment - combustible cigarettes - at the expense of a smoking cessation product that has been shown to be much safer to users. 

Senator Hannon is not alone in this craziness. The Israeli Health Ministry has proposed a complete ban on the sale of electronic cigarettes.

The benefits of electronic cigarettes are clear: they help many smokers to quit smoking. They are especially advantageous to smokers who have failed to quit using traditional methods. Taking these products off the market is essentially condemning many smokers to continued smoking by taking away a viable option for them to try to kick the addiction.

The proposed policies in New York State and Israel would severely harm the public's health by causing many vapers to go back to cigarette smoking. What justification is there for a law that we know would harm the public's health? 

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