Thursday, July 24, 2014

What's Wrong Here? Michigan Medical Society Opposes Bill to Ban E-Cigarette Sales to Minors

The Michigan Medical Society has opposed legislation that would protect the public's health by prohibiting the sale of electronic cigarettes to minors.

If that sounds strange, I'll repeat it so that you realize this is accurate.

The Michigan Medical Society - representing the state's physicians - is opposed to legislation that would do nothing more or less than ban the sale of electronic cigarettes to minors.

Even the e-cigarette industry itself supports this legislation. How ironic, then, that the state's physicians, along with other "anti-smoking" groups, are opposing this bill, which was enacted by the legislature and awaits the governor's signature. The "anti-smoking" and "health" groups are urging the governor to veto the bill.

How is it that anti-smoking advocates and health groups, including the state's physicians, could possibly oppose a simple ban on the sale of e-cigarettes to minors?

The Rest of the Story

As is so often the case, the answer is money.

In banning the sale of e-cigarettes to minors, the legislation defines e-cigarettes the way they should be defined: as vapor products or alternative nicotine products.

However, the "health" advocates want e-cigarettes to be defined as tobacco products. Even though they are not tobacco products and do not contain any tobacco.


For two reasons.

First, the advocates want e-cigarettes to be taxed, and it would be easier to tax these products if they are defined as tobacco products. It's hard to turn down a revenue stream when you see one, and "anti-smoking" advocates are apparently no different. They see a nicotine-containing product that some people are using for pleasure, and they immediately want to tax it, regardless of the fact that taxing e-cigarettes will increase cigarette use and kill people by removing the economic incentive for smokers to switch from real cigarettes to e-cigarettes.

Second, the advocates want the same type of marketing and other restrictions that apply to cigarettes to apply equally to e-cigarettes. They are afraid that defining electronic cigarettes honestly might put a damper in those plans.

But e-cigarettes should not be treated the same as cigarettes. Doing so removes the incentive for people to switch from real cigarettes to e-cigarettes and therefore will increase smoking, and with it, death.

The rest of the story, then, is that health advocates in Michigan are so blinded by ideology (that anything that looks like a cigarette is evil) that they are on the exact opposite side of the issue as they should be. First, they are opposing the prohibition of the sale of e-cigarettes to minors. Second, they are in favor of protecting the sale of tobacco cigarettes by removing all competitive advantage that e-cigarettes hold in the marketplace.

Dr. Ken Warner, a nationally recognized tobacco control expert, doesn't buy it. He was quoted as stating:  

"Would I like (e-cigarettes) to be regulated by a organization like FDA that can make those subtle distinctions among tobacco products? Yes. Do I want them to be regulated exactly like other tobacco products? No, because not all tobacco products are the same, and too many people think they are and act like they are."

Former Michigan legislative aide and public policy expert Ken Braun also sees through the anti-smoking groups' smokescreen:

"Inhaling tons of smoke from burning sticks full of harsh chemicals and dried leaves has been proven to be a highly efficient method of creating many murderous cancers. But while very addictive, not healthy, and not something we should be letting children purchase, nicotine use by itself is but a tiny fraction of tobacco’s threat. Confusing these problems is like comparing shoplifting a t-shirt with aggravated murder. Reporting recently on the toxicology of e-cigarettes, the British National Health Service stated the vapors contain 1/1000th the hazardous chemicals of real cigarettes. Those anti-smoking billboards on roadsides showing people with chunks of their face and lungs missing are showing the ravages of tobacco smoke, not nicotine use. To conflate the two ... is - at best - blindingly stupid regarding the facts ... . At worst, it is profoundly immoral propaganda that confuses and distracts people with a lethal addiction regarding a life-saving alternative. We now have the ability to separate smoking death from nicotine addiction. That should be a goal of health policy, not an obstacle."

"Half a dozen smokers have contacted me since I began writing about this issue, each speaking of a much healthier lifestyle with clean lungs from switching to e-cigarettes. Their clothing smells normal and they no longer assault bystanders with tobacco smoke. They have their life back because they know the difference between tobacco and nicotine. It’s a shame lying politicians seek to confuse other tragic people who seek such peace."

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