Cali lawmakers cannot tell smoke from vapor

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Last week, the California Senate passed a proposed bill, SB648, by a 21-10 vote, banning the use of electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) anywhere that smoking (of regular tobacco cigarettes) is banned. In essence, if the Assembly joins in and the measure becomes law, in our largest state e-cigs would be treated as equivalent to cigarettes for all practical purposes.

The bill s sponsor, Sen. Ellen Corbett (a Democrat), also was behind the 2010 bill that banned the sale of e-cigs to minors so that is not addressed in the current bill. Indeed, everyone agrees that they should not be marketed or sold to minors. The Senator s rationale for sending vapers (as users of e-cigs call themselves, as opposed to smokers) out into the cold with their smoke-inhaling peers is this: Some of the vapors or nicotine emitted by the e-cigarettes may pose health risks.

Corbett also points out that the U.S. Department of Transportation is proposing to ban their use on airplanes because of the possible health risks, and, while the health effect is a matter of debate and further study, Corbett said the state should err on the side of protecting the public.

Protecting the public from what? said ACSH s Dr. Gilbert Ross. Vaping is banned by individual airlines not by the federal government having nothing whatsoever to do with possible health risks, but to avoid confusion on flights. Her insinuation that the vapor emitted by e-cigarettes might be harmful to bystanders is pure drivel. Worst of all, by restricting their use, ex-smokers who have finally been able to quit using this relatively new technology will be forced to huddle among active smokers and the temptation to relapse to lethal cigarettes will be tough to resist. The sad fact is that the FDA-approved methods rarely work for long, so protecting the public from imaginary danger will cause grievous harm to the millions of current smokers who may want to try vaping instead, but now will be deterred by such counter-productive measures. Sen. Corbett should do just a little actual research before proclaiming herself an expert.