Massachusetts Considers Ban on E-Cigarettes in Public Places

Nanny-State Legislators seem like they are trying to one-up each other. Today, the Joint Health Committee of both legislative houses in Massachusetts are deliberating H.B. 3639, a bill that would, among other things, ban the use of e-cigarettes in,

workplaces, work spaces, common work areas, classrooms, conference and meeting rooms, offices, elevators, hallways, medical facilities, cafeterias, employee lounges, staircases, restrooms, restaurants, cafes, coffee shops, food courts or concessions, supermarkets or retail food outlets, bars, taverns or in a place where food or drink is sold to the public and consumed on the premise as part of a business required to collect state meals tax on the purchase, trains, airplanes, theatres, concert halls, exhibition halls, convention centers, auditoriums, arenas, stadiums open to the public, schools, colleges, universities, museums, libraries, health care facilities, group child care centers, school age child care centers, family child care centers, school age day or overnight camp buildings, in or upon any public transportation conveyance, airports, train stations, bus stations, transportation passenger terminals or enclosed outdoor platforms.

The Risk Analysis Division of the National Center for Public Policy Research today shared our view on the issue, in the form of a letter to members of the committee.

In part, the letter states,

The provision of the legislation which would ban the sale of e-cigarettes to those under 18 is a sensible approach that would prevent youth from legally using nicotine products.

However, other provisions of the bill will not only fail to help keep minors from using tobacco, they could undermine the state’s goal of reducing the number of people who smoke cigarettes. In particular, the widespread ban on the use of e-cigarettes in public places will have the unintended consequence of keeping cigarettes the tobacco product of choice in the state. Cigarettes are by far the most dangerous for of tobacco use.

A ban on E-cigarette in public places is not grounded in the same logic that supports bans on smoking cigarettes in public places, namely exposure to harmful second-hand smoke. In fact, there’s no smoke, first or second-hand, from e-cigarettes.

Cigarette smokers around the world who until now have been unable to quit their deadly habit, are quitting smoking by substituting e-cigarettes for cigarettes.

For all the heated rhetoric, there’s little dispute in the scientific community: those who quit smoking cigarettes and switch to e-cigarettes reap immediate as well as long-term health benefits. And those improvements are dramatic.

After all, the nicotine, present in both cigarettes and many e-cigarettes, is addictive, but not particularly harmful. The danger comes from burning and inhaling tobacco, which is done with cigarettes but not e-cigarettes.

Nicotine’s bad reputation should be attributed to its most common delivery device, cigarettes. Nicotine itself is about as dangerous as the caffeine in soda. Along the same lines, while too much soda can cause weight gain, nobody seriously suggests that caffeine causes obesity. Similarly, e-cigarettes provide the nicotine and the habitual activity of smoking, without the danger of burning tobacco.

Some have recently suggested that acceptance of e-cigarettes would lead to increased smoking rates, by attracting new users, who would then “graduate” to actual cigarettes. The notion that e-cigarettes are a widespread gateway to cigarette smoking is not supported by anecdotal evidence, or any study that has looked at the matter carefully. 

By banning the use of e-cigarettes in public places, the state would send the wrong message about the benefits of quitting smoking and using e-cigarettes instead. 

The National Center for Public Policy Research is a communications and research foundation supportive of a strong national defense and dedicated to providing free market solutions to today’s public policy problems. We believe that the principles of a free market, individual liberty and personal responsibility provide the greatest hope for meeting the challenges facing America in the 21st century.