, Salem, MA


September 16, 2013

Our view: Nanny government identifies a new target


Banning sales to minors makes sense and should become law. We ban the sale of ordinary cigarettes to minors because we do not want them to become addicted to nicotine and suffer the deleterious health effects caused by a lifetime of smoking. We ban sales to minors and not to adults because minors, society believes, are incapable of making informed, rational decisions and behave impulsively.

E-cigarettes do not change this rationale at all. Their sale to minors should be prohibited.

But the legislation would also extend the ban on smoking ordinary cigarettes in public places to electronic cigarettes. There is no rational basis for this legislation.

Smoking is prohibited in enclosed public spaces because there is convincing evidence that secondhand smoke poses a health risk even to nonsmokers. But there is no such evidence that the vapor exhaled by those who smoke e-cigarettes poses any health risks whatsoever. Banning smokers of electronic cigarettes reflects nothing more than an irrational fear of and animus toward those with personal preferences that differ from our own.

While no sensible person would claim electronic cigarettes are a health device, some smokers use them to wean themselves off nicotine altogether. Some 1 in 5 smokers now report using e-cigarettes.

Unless hard evidence can prove these devices pose some threat to nonsmokers, we ought to leave adult e-cigarette smokers alone.

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