The United States Department of Transportation is reported to be issuing an official ban on the use of electronic cigarettes on airplanes. The ban is expected this Spring. A letter from DOT Secretary, Ray Lahood, to Senator Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey indicated that the DOT considers the e-cigarette to be banned under the 1987 legislation that banned traditional cigarettes on airplanes, and asked for a clarification. Sen. Lautenberg wrote the original legislation and does not want the use of e-cigs to become common since there are insufficient studies to show the effects of e-cigarettes on others. The old “second-hand smoke” argument.
The problem is the electronic cigarette uses a battery operated vaporizer that creates a sensation of smoking using a glycerin base with different levels of nicotine or none at all. The e-smoker exhales visible WATER vapor. Water vapor similar, if not the same as, what is exhaled by everyone when it’s cold out. There is no fire, no smoke, no smell, and they’re having a hell of time finding anything harmful about it. You can actually “smoke” an e-cigarette without even exhaling the vapor if you choose.
So I ask you. What is the issue here? I understand that smoking offends people and some have allergies to cigarette smoke. It was once explained to me that the smoking ban was really all about smell, and frankly, I believe it. It certainly has nothing to do with a health issue. You can’t make me believe that those of you that voted for the smoking bans care about smoker’s health. Car emissions are much more dangerous than any second-hand smoke could possibly be. Nicotine is found in vitamins, potatoes, tomatoes, and asparagus just to name a few. Feeling healthy yet? I remember walking off an airplane in San Diego and being greeted by a banner over the down escalator proclaiming “California – Welcome to Our Smoke Free Air.” When I got outside looked out over the smog and took a deep breath of jet fuel emissions I couldn’t help but laugh.
Thousands of people have quit smoking conventional cigarettes by using the e-cigarette which appeared in the US around 2006. There are none of the 4000 chemicals in “vape,” some that have been identified as known carcinogens, that are found in conventional cigarette smoke. There is no evidence that the vapor causes any damage to lung tissue. The FDA is trying like hell to find something though because of the increasing popularity of the e-cigarette. They recently handed down a decision that it was not considered a drug delivery system which was a big win for the e-cigarette industry. This effectively means that they won’t control e-cigarettes as a controlled substance.
So here are the real issues: There is currently no Cigarette Tax on e-cigarettes because they’re not cigarettes. A tax that is almost 60% of the cost of a pack of cigarettes I should add. As millions switch to the “safer” e-cigarette the $20 billion or so in yearly tax revenue will take a hit. Tobacco companies are losing millions of their addicted customers to the new smoking method as well. The Tobacco Lobby is huge and powerful and probably donated to Sen. Lautenberg’s campaign. I promise you Big Tobacco will get into the manufacture of e-juice, the flavored glycerin base that is used in e-cigarettes, if they haven’t already.
So go ahead, argue away. It’s all about one group forcing their beliefs on another anyway. A very powerful thing in society. Oh, and of course, taxes. Perfume is the next big target by the way. Fragrances are being blamed for allergies, migraine headaches, and, well, there’s that smell issue again.