Starting February 1, 2016 Sumter County, FL will not hire vapers. The county has decided to take a stand against tobacco use in order to avoid additional health care costs associated with the common frequency of smoking related illness. The county was charging employees who smoke a $25 premium but after the new regulation goes into effect they will no longer charge employees. They are simply going not going to hire people who use tobacco.
Beginning February 1, 2016, any new Sumter County employees will have to sign an affidavit attesting to the fact that they have not smoked or used tobacco products in the last year. The list of products being included in the tobacco category is vast.
Unfortunately, vapers are being caught up in the mix. That’s right, vaping is being lumped into the same category as smoking, pipes and chewing tobacco. Once again we are seeing a regulatory body react to what they see in the headlines instead of actually thoroughly investigating the realities. In a way, we can’t blame them. They are making what they believe to be the correct decision based on the information that they have. Of course the information that they have is probably false and most certainly incomplete.
Negative ecig stories are at an all-time high. Every week there is a new anti-vaping theme being run in publications from coast to coast. Special interests are exercising a dominance of mainstream media reports. Across the pond in the UK, public officials have been much more open to legitimate science and now recommend ecigs to smokers. In the US, we have a ways to go and until then vapers will have to fight for acceptance.
Sumter County Sees eCigs As A Tobacco Product
For some reason, Sumter County commissioners see ecigs as the same thing as tobacco products. The only relation between vaping and tobacco is the nicotine. Nicotine is derived from a family of plants and the main source is recognized as coming from tobacco plants. But vaping is not smoking.
To be clear, there are no tobacco leaves in liquid. Clearly Sumter County officials have no clue what eliquid is! There are no tobacco leaves in eliquid. There are a thousand tobacco additives like ammonia, acetaldehyde, and bronchial dilators. Tobacco is a horror show of toxic additives. None of these are in eliquid.
On the other hand, the nicotine patch has, surprise, nicotine! Perhaps Sumter County should not hire anyone on the patch. Tomatoes and potatoes have small amounts of nicotine. Sumter County officials may have to ban people who like french fries and ketchup! Some teas have nicotine. There might even be some tea with nicotine in the Sumter County commissioners break room. Oh oh!
Sumter County ecig and vaping regulations should not be a surprise. While we would like to see regulators across the country engage in a more thorough, science based evaluation of vaping the reality is the people respond to what they see in the headlines and what they hear on the news. The current state of affairs sees us with a media that is compliant with the frightening narrative of anti-vaping groups. We have a long way to go to truly educate the public about the realities of vaping.
Vapers, a lot of this is up to us. One by one we can educate people that vaping saves lives. Our work is cut out for us and in the meantime we may see other cases where vapers are discriminated against. Despite the set-backs we have to keep moving forward and fighting to ensure that smokers have access to a less harmful alternative.