Because of the fact that the FDA is not providing any guidance at all on electronic cigarettes, states and cities have to do their own work in providing legislation and the general direction on how electronic cigarette users fit into daily life. Mostly this has meant that various bans and regulations are in place to stop electronic cigarette users from practising their new hobby in doors.
However, it has not all been plain sailing for mayors and other authority figures. Recently, in New York City, Mayor Bloomberg has faced much opposition to his wish to include electronic cigarettes with tobacco cigarettes in the city’s Smoke Free Air act. Now it is the turn of Chicago to sweat on the issue. But this time things have been even worse for that particular city’s mayor.
The name of the city’s mayor is Rahm Emmanuel. He’s a powerful character. He recently worked with Barack Obama, for example. Prone to wildly exaggerated threats against his enemies, he is a really complicated man, and not one that is easily crossed. However, it seems that even he cannot make Chicago an electronic cigarette free zone.
Menthol cigarettes to be banned near kid
One of his wishes was to ensure that the sale of menthol flavoured tobacco products within 500m of any kind of school was banned. This went ahead without any opposition from the council. This makes sense, because nobody wants young people to be smoking cigarettes, so well done to Mr Emmanuel for that. It shows that he is progressive and trying to make Chicago a safer place for children. So that’s a good idea.
His main aim with his ordinances though, was to classify electronic cigarette products as tobacco products. This is one law Bloomberg is trying to push through quickly in New York City.
If these two mayors got their way, then electronic cigarettes would be treated just the same as tobacco cigarettes, which means a whole host of issues that would make it difficult for people to enjoy their electronic cigarette properly.
Of all these issues, the biggest meant that this would have put electronic cigarettes behind the counter at retailers. This will make it difficult for people to truly enjoy electronic cigarettes, and put the stigma of tobacco cigarettes back onto the product.
A reversal of the hard work done with e-cig manufacturers
This would reverse all the hard work that has been done with electronic cigarette manufacturers in recent years. What’s worse for electronic cigarette users, it would’ve made it illegal for anyone to use an electronic cigarette outdoors or at indoor public places.
In New York City for example, a city very much like Chicago, it looks like it will soon be illegal to use electronic cigarettes in a public park.
The final nail in the coffin if such ordinances go ahead would be the fact that Chicago would have the right to ask electronic cigarette retailers to apply for a license. This is for taxation and it would mean that some electronic cigarette retailers would probably give up the ghost as they could not afford the license. All the measures will be prohibitive, and would effectively push electronic cigarettes into the shadows.
The general gist of the opposition centred on the idea that an e-cigarette only emits vapour. If you look at the article carefully, you’ll see one particular member of the council talking about how he doesn’t stop his daughter being around when he is boiling a kettle.
This analogy between boiling a kettle and using an electronic cigarette is one that we haven’t heard before. We think it is very powerful. It is just water vapour, so it cannot be classed as anything near tobacco smoke.
Discouraging people from using e-cigs
Perhaps most importantly, the aldermen in the city talked about how this would discourage people from using electronic cigarettes to quit smoking. The thousands of toxins in tobacco smoke have killed millions of people over the years. If anything is put in place that stops people avoiding these toxins, it would be a great shame.
A particularly powerful comment came from one of the aldermen when he said that this will be punishing people for trying not to smoke. There is an interesting point here. People get taxed heavily with tobacco cigarettes, so when you try to avoid tobacco cigarettes by using electronic cigarettes, they face a double punishment. This is obviously unfair, and it’s rational to argue on this point.
Interesting to see such a widespread opposition to a mayor’s plans. The general idea is that this kind of policy will prevent electronic cigarette users from becoming healthier and living longer. It’s amazing though that the tide is turning so quickly at the city level in United States of America.
The FDA is soon to make it’s announcement, which means that in a few months time the country will know exactly where it stands as regards regulation of electronic cigarettes. This means that money may be involved, and retailers of the products may need to apply for licences and so on.
There could also be restrictions on Internet advertising, which is unfortunately how many people actually make their businesses as regards electronic cigarettes.
The FDA may eventually classify e-cigs as tobacco
And who knows, the FDA may even suggest that electronic cigarettes are classified as tobacco products. Sadly some commentators think this will be the case. This makes the events in Chicago even more interesting.The fact that people in politics in Chicago oppose Emanuel’s plans to classify electronic cigarettes and tobacco products shows that the FDA will have to think about what it says in the next few months. Opposition from politicians themselves is not as easy to deal with as the opposition from the general public. Opposition politicians generally tends to stop laws been created.
Maybe the FDA is powerful enough to make these laws happen. We think there’ll be a middle ground, so that retailers can continue to sell their products, and people continue to enjoy the products in public spaces, to an extent.
Recent events at Heathrow airport in London, where a special vaping zone has been put in place for people, point the way forward to what could happen in a world where compromise is king.