Should Electronic Cigarettes be Included in Smoking Bans – No

Smoking bans shouldn’t exist in the first place, let alone include the use of  electronic, or e-cigarettes.

However, as practically everyone knows, tobacco-smoking in public has become a taboo practice.  The sole event responsible for an ever-increasing number of restrictions on smoking for nearly 20 years can be traced back to the US Environmental Protection Agency’s 1993 Report of the effects of passive tobacco smoke, popularly known as “secondhand smoke,” on nearby nonsmokers.

Despite two decades of arguing and questioning the science and subsequent results of the EPA’s research, most opponents of smoking bans have thrown in the towel. Public smoking bans are not going to be reversed anytime soon. To put this another way, the good old days of being able to light that Marlboro up after a big meal in a restaurant or while enjoying a few drinks in a bar are decidedly a thing of the past. Designated smoking areas in workplaces and on public transportation likewise no longer exist. Those who protest such policy? Their voices don’t count. The vast majority of society is now convinced that secondhand tobacco smoke is a detriment to overall public health. End of story.

With that established, a literal Godsend was developed a few years back. Or so lifelong smokers thought. Enter the electronic cigarette, or e-cigarette for short. A cylindrical tube that looks like a real cigarette functions as a battery. There are disposable e-cigarettes as well as those that can be used indefinitely with replaceable filters that attach to the battery. In either case, an atomizer is contained within the structure that creates a vapor from a mixture of propylene glycol , water, and if one desires, nicotine. The user draws on the “filtered” end, and an LED light on the opposite end illuminates to resemble a real cigarette’s glowing coal. The vapor is inhaled into the user’s lungs and expelled just as he or she would do with a conventional cigarette.

By far, e-cigarettes are the closest thing to actually smoking available on the market. There is no offensive odor to nearby nonsmokers, nor do any carcinogens, not even the tiniest amounts, enter the airspace. Nicotine, by the way, is not a carcinogen.

Smokers are people, just as nonsmokers are. The fact that lifelong smokers are addicted to nicotine is irrelevant, for not only is nicotine a legal product, but its consumption is as intrinsic to a smoker’s identity as a cup of espresso is to a coffee lover. It’s as simple as that. As such, anyone should be entitled to practice a legal activity in public, particularly if there is no question that bystanders are not harmed.

However, a problem exists, and quite a significant one at that. Ever since the rabid campaign to denormalize smoking reared its ugly head, many nonsmokers have been psychosomatically conditioned to wave their arms about and start coughing the split second someone lights up. Thus, since “vaping” e-cigarettes looks just like smoking, such types will assume that the person is indeed smoking.

There is a simple solution: Why not place a harmless colored dye into the e-cigarette mixture so that nonsmokers could clearly see that the vapor is not tobacco smoke? Exhaling purple, green, or blue vapor, for instance, would enable concerned nonsmokers that no secondhand tobacco smoke is drifting through the air. In addition, the electronic cigarettes themselves could deliberately be made not to look like a cigarette. This could be done buy making them look like a ballpoint pen or perhaps a candy cane.

These devices enable smokers to go for several hours at a time without smoking so much as a trace of tobacco and even serve as excellent tools to aid in quitting tobacco use altogether. The best part of all? Even the most nicotine-dependent smokers out there retain their composure. That being the case, there is absolutely no reason why e-cigarettes should be included in public smoking bans. Many workplaces already permit their use, which results in increased productivity and morale.

By denying this opportunity, and a quite equitable one at that for all concerned, those who smoke are further ostracized and stripped of their rightful dignity.  Prohibiting even e-cigarettes from being used in public only accomplishes one thing: it reinforces the notion that smoking bans are all about social engineering.

Electronic cigarettes need to be given a fighting chance.