I rather enjoyed this, rather long-winded, article from Jason Walsh about the ‘war’ going on against smokers. It goes through a long history of how law makers have begun this process, but most importantly, it does so on a global scale.
When it gets down to ecigs, the information is interesting, touching on the history of ecigs as well as giving an ‘outsiders’ view, as in someone from outside the ecig community, on how this is all playing out.
Here is the part on ecigs:
That’s why e-cigarettes have found a market. As is often the case with subcultures, however, e-cigarette users – who call themselves ‘vapers’ – have a tendency to be slightly messianic and have developed a fairly impenetrable jargon around the act. Given that using an e-cigarette, with its weird LED, already has the unfortunate effect of making the user look like a Bond villain or an extra from Doctor Who, the last thing e-cigarettes need is a geeky subculture to deter normal people from trying them.
Off-putting as all this is, though, the case against e-cigarettes is fairly threadbare. While there are no conclusive studies that say e-cigarettes are harmless, there is every reason to believer they are considerably less harmful than smoking actual cigarettes. By doing away with ‘secondhand smoke’ (and firsthand smoke, for that matter), as well as replacing tobacco, tar and additives with pure nicotine, e-cigarettes pose no discernible danger to those around users.
This has done little to satisfy anti-smoking crusaders. Most laughably, e-cigarettes have been the subject of worries on the basis that they are a Chinese invention; as every good illiberal knows, the Chinese can’t be trusted. Clearly this is the precautionary principle at work, but it is also obvious that no matter how much smokers are isolated from others and the harm of smoking is reduced, nothing will ever be enough to satisfy the cravings of tobacco haters, who are constantly in need of their next, freedom-stubbing fix.
To say the situation is confused is a major understatement. Denmark has effectively outlawed e-cigarettes by declaring them medical devices and refusing to issue licences for their sale (thereby creating a rent-seeking situation where pharmaceutical companies’ NRT products are protected from competition), while Finland has banned the marketing of e-cigarettes. The Pharmaceutical Society of Ireland has forbidden chemists from selling the devices, though shops outside their control, such as newsagents, continue to stock them for now. The German city of Hanover has banned the use of electronic cigarettes in civic buildings while the US state of New Jersey has banned their use in indoor public places, as is already the case with tobacco.
A US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) attempt to ban e-cigarettes was quashed by the court of appeal on the basis that they were marketed to smokers as an alternative to tobacco rather than as a medicinal product. In Britain, a 2010 attempt by the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency to ban e-cigarettes was rebuffed by the government’s own Regulatory Policy Committee, but the battle is far from over and, at EU level, e-cigarettes are being considered for control under revisions to the 2001 tobacco-products directive.
In 2011, Ireland’s TobaccoFree Research Institute told Irish Medical News it was ‘not in favour of any device that promotes the notion of cigarette smoking’. So there you have it: it is not just smoking that must be stubbed out, but the ‘notion’ of smoking. Not content with imposing ever more restrictions on how smokers behave, it is increasingly obvious that what really causes anti-smokers to light-up (with rage) is that electronic cigarettes allow people to continue smoking with impunity, ignoring smoking bans, not having to say that they are ‘planning to quit’ and generally apologise for existing. And where the lobbies screech, politicians are sure to follow.
Indeed, rather than being celebrated, the fact that e-cigarettes are a new potential way to quit smoking altogether provides a useful fig leaf for prohibitionists because any ‘smoking cessation’ product must be regulated as a medicine and can therefore be banned by the back door. When it comes to smoking, it seems that eliminating the risk to others and reducing the risk to oneself just isn’t good enough.
As HL Mencken put it: the definition of a Puritan is someone who has the haunting fear that someone, somewhere is having fun. He could easily have had the modern anti-smoking lobby in mind.