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Are Anti-Vaping Zealots Breaking The Law?

By Matt McConnell

Thursday August 6, 2015
anti vaping groups may be going to far
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WatchDog.org is reporting that anti-vaping groups that are taxpayer funded may actually be breaking the law when they attack electronic cigarettes. The crux of the argument is that money intended to be spent discouraging tobacco is now being spent on attacking electronic cigarettes. Are ant-vaping zealots crossing a legal line? They may very well be.

WatchDog.org is a non-profit organization dedicated to holding government accountable for how they spend your money. Watch Dog journalists have established operations in 40 states and they are watching for misspending and bringing to light any breaches of the public trust.

The North Dakota branch of WatchDog.org is reporting on one state lawmaker who is currently seeking a legal opinion on whether or not the North Dakota Center for Tobacco Prevention and Control Policy should be spending public dollars to discourage vaping.

Representative Mike Schatz is referring to 2008 North Dakota ballot Measure 3. Measure 3 mandated that North Dakota’s share of money from the Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement would be directed to the Center for Tobacco Prevention and Control Policy, operating in North Dakota as BreatheND. The money was intended to discourage smoking and curb tobacco use.

As Representative Schatz points out, there is not one word in Measure 3 about electronic cigarettes or vaping. That has not stopped BreatheND from spending that money on anti-vaping ads. Some say that they are breaking the law by spending the money for something other than it was intended for.

Mr. Schatz expressed these concerns to the State Attorney General saying “Money from the tobacco settlement is being spent by the North Dakota Center for Tobacco Prevention and Control Policy to discourage the use of e-cigarettes in the form of literature, verbal communication, and advertising. I am concerned this activity constitutes the use of state dollars for a purpose that has not been approved by the Legislative Assembly.”

Mr. Schatz told WatchDog.org that he thought that Measure 3 was supposed to fight against smoking inside public places and that vaping was not the purpose of the measure. Mr. Schatz said that he thought vaping would help smokers quit. Unfortunately, anti-smoking advocates have turned their energy and anger at ecigs and vaping.

Anti-Vaping Zealots Are Helping Big Tobacco

ecigarette attack ads from enemies in bureacracyAnti-vaping zealots have become infamous for using scaremonger tactics to launch a war on ecigs that does nothing but help the cause of Big Tobacco. Do they know they are helping Big Tobacco? Some say yes while others say they know exactly what they are doing.

You hear time and time again public health agency officials from various agencies and special interests coming forward and talking about how ecigs will encourage a new generation of smokers.

No matter how much data you show them, no matter how many deeply personal stories from millions of Americans who have experienced a new lease on life with vaping they hear, these officials are not listening. They have made their mind up about ecigs and they equate it to smoking.

It is impossible to reconcile a mission against tobacco and to help smokers quit with the outrageous claims made against vaping. In the vaping community, we constantly meet smokers who tell us that vaping is worse than smoking. They believe the ridiculous claims of anti-vaping zealots and take those claims as a license to keep smoking cigarettes.

What anti-vaping zealots fail to grasp is that the more they discourage vaping, the better it is for Big Tobacco. Their war on ecigs is Big Tobacco’s best friend. As anti-vaping forces lobby intensely for strict ecigarette regulation, Big Tobacco smiles again because if anti-vaping groups have their way, ecig tank systems and online sales will be banned. If that happens, the only ecigs that will be available will be the cigalikes sold at gas stations. Guess who owns those ecig brands? Big Tobacco.

Representative Schatz may have uncovered something here. We have seen millions of taxpayer dollars spent on discouraging vaping. If those organizations spending that money are supposed to be spending it on the effort against smoking, then are they misappropriating funds?

We have long advocated for the rights of smokers to access vaping as a less harmful option. ECCR is well aware that not all ecigs are the same and some of them are downright sketchy. That is why we work so hard to identify the best ecigs. A good ecig makes all the difference. Millions of people have ditched smoking for vaping and we hear from them all the time.

They are passionate about vaping because of what they have personally experienced. Spending tax dollars to scare people about vaping seems at odds with fighting against tobacco harm. Anti-smoking groups have seemingly autonomously decided that smoking and vaping are the same. They are so confident in that assessment, that they have no issue spending your money based on that assessment.

It will be interesting to see what happens in North Dakota.

Matt

Team ECCR

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