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California Bill Tying Vapor Cigarettes To Tobacco Fails

By Tyler McCanus

Wednesday July 22, 2015
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Vapor cigarettes are not regular, smelly, analogue traditional tobacco cigarettes. They just aren’t. People are vaping, not smoking. They aren’t burning tobacco leaves (along with thousands of added chemicals, mind you); they are heating up eliquid or ecig juice that often contains liquid nicotine. This concept is clear as day for you and me, but somehow it is a hard fact for many politicians and other organizational officials to get over. They look at vapor cigarettes, or electronic cigarettes as they are also called, and they just see smoke sticks. That’s when they push ahead with legislation to tie them to tobacco.

One of these politicians isn’t feeling so great anymore about his initiative and that would be California State Senator Mark Leto from San Francisco. The legislation he proposed, Senate Bill 140, would specifically connect vapor cigarettes with traditional tobacco cigarettes. In essence, it calls for vaping to be treated exactly like smoking, with all the restrictions and taxes that are currently imposed on analogue cigarettes. This isn’t the first of its kind bill, even in California, and thankfully this one appears to be dead on arrival after a heated debate.

For Senator Leto, the forced removal of the line within the legislation that equates vapor cigarettes with tobacco cigarettes completely changed his perspective on his own bill. “I no longer believe in it. None of my sponsors believe in it … I dissociate myself from it,” the bay area Senator said. He claimed to fellow committee members that he spoke “on behalf of the next generation of Californians who will be addicted to nicotine as a result of your vote.” We think that may be a little dramatic, especially when long ago we realized the scare tactic of non-smoking teens picking up vaping was shown to be false.

Vapor Cigarettes Issue Plays To Voters

vapor cigarette scare tacticsIt’s just this sort of pretentiousness that plays to voters of a certain persuasion. Or we can actually say that is plays to any voter who will automatically take a position against vapor cigarettes when they hear it will affect their children.

What they don’t consider is how these devices can help their family and friends who are looking to make the switch away from smoking.

Or even those very same kids, if they should choose to go down that path that Big Tobacco paves.

It isn’t as if all of a sudden kids aren’t going to be interested in smoking tobacco cigarettes. At least with a legitimate alternative in vaping, they’ll have the chance to make other choices either now or down the line.

Not so says Senator Leto. “Nicotine comes from tobacco. These are tobacco products,” the Senator testified. “It’s no small difference of opinion whether these are tobacco products or not, because if they’re not tobacco products, Big Tobacco can continue to market their ‘non-tobacco product’ to our children.” While we can empathize with his concern over Big Tobacco, even if they do proclaim vapor cigarettes as the future, we understand the that there is a huge difference, not a small one, between liquid nicotine in ecig juice and that released by burning plant matter. It isn’t right to lump them in together because their effects have been shown to be so different.

Erick Beall of the Smoke-Free Alternatives Trade Association shot back at Leto’s aim to tie vaping to smoking. “There is little doubt that there are key differences between products currently defined as tobacco products or vapor products,” Beall said. The ex-smoker says he represents 170 businesses in California that have helped people like him make that switch away from smoking. The ecig juice that he carried with him may have had liquid nicotine, but that doesn’t mean it is just a way for Big Tobacco to get their hands on a new generation.

“Yes they make e-cigarettes, but they do not represent this industry – this industry was created by ex-smokers who use these products to quit,” said Gregory Conley when testifying about Big Tobacco’s role in the burgeoning vapor cigarettes market. Conley is the American Vaping Association president and so he wasn’t going to miss an opportunity to have his voice heard.

On The Same Side As Big Tobacco, For Now

big tobacco

Attacking eCigs Defies Common Sense

It’s true that Big Tobacco had their own lobbying efforts in this, and that will make anyone who knows their history squirm.

It isn’t easy to find yourself on the same side of these mammoth profit-driven corporations, but stranger things have and still do happen. Yet the fact that Big Tobacco is getting behind vaping now doesn’t take away from its positive aspects.

Even the addictive aspect of vapor cigarettes via liquid nicotine has been shown to be less than that of traditional tobacco cigarettes, so nobody can say making the switch will just keep you addicted to something else.

In the end, there is good legislation and bad legislation. This happens in all fields of government interest, so why would it be any different in the arena of vaping? A bill that directly ties the harmful affects of traditional tobacco cigarettes to that of vapor cigarettes isn’t what we need to grow the industry in a safe and responsible manner. There needs to be a shaping of this issue that leads to all parties taking a hand in making sure that consumers are safe and getting only the best. Hence, rules that would create safety standards for ecig juice, for instance, would be a step forward that could be applauded by all.

This specific California bill was not like that at all. That’s why we’re happy that it lost steam, probably because a lot of those realities came to light during discussion. We imagine that those civil organizations doing the lobbying made a difference too, and we can’t ignore the fact that Big Tobacco lobbyists got in on it too. The bigger battle will be when our interests and that of tobacco’s don’t align. We can see this coming as clear as day, especially with the push for open systems while Big Tobacco pushes against that natural progression.

That battle, however, is for a different day. For now we can bask in the glow of a battle won against an over-reaching nanny state attempt at classifying vapor cigarettes all wrong. Each time we are able to stand up to this type of maneuvering, everyone wins. The industry wins, but also future ex-smokers who take up vaping will win. The more this movement of ours becomes legitimate, the faster it will grow. Today we enjoy the win, but tomorrow the battle of public opinion continues.

Tyler,

Team ECCR

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