Monday, September 17, 2012

Governments continue to support Big Pharma interests

Tobacco and e-cigarette users, who will be in violation of yet another proposed anti-tobacco consumer law, could face a maximum fine of $50 for a first offense and up to $100 for additional offenses committed within one year of a prior offense for using tobacco products and e-cigarettes on county property, including county vehicles and outdoors within 20 feet of an entrance.

A public hearing regarding the proposed law will be held at 6:30 p.m. Monday, Sept. 17 at 48 Court St., St. Lawrence County, New York. Products restricted under the law include any manufactured product containing tobacco or nicotine, including but not limited to cigarettes, cigars, pipe tobacco, snuff, chewing tobacco, dipping tobacco, bidis, snus, dissolvable tobacco products, and electronic cigarette cartridges (but do not include nicotine products sold by pharmaceutical companies.)

According to the resolution, the law is designed to "protect public health, safety and general welfare by eliminating exposure to secondhand tobacco smoke and tobacco residue." ("Tobacco residue" is apparently the new code phrase for "third-hand smoke," which is a ridiculous theory that there is a significant health risk from smoke residue left on clothing, walls and furniture. However, the residue must first be mixed with a very specific chemical in order to become "activated" and potentially harmful.) Yet smoke-free products and e-cigarettes do not expose bystanders to second hand tobacco smoke or leave "tobacco residue."

Anti-smoking laws are seriously moving beyond the scope of scientific basis and the original intent of smoking bans. Anti-smoker groups justified smoking bans by using targeted research "proving" potential harm to bystanders from second-hand smoke. There is absolutely no scientific evidence of potential harm to bystanders to provide a basis for banning adult use of smoke-free tobacco and recreational nicotine products indoors, let alone outdoors. If a tobacco lozenge or snus packet kept inside the mouth created such risks to bystanders, would the same not apply to pharmaceutical nicotine lozenges and gums?

Additionally, it is common knowledge that pharmaceutical nicotine gums and lozenges are already frequently used as a tobacco substitute at times when smoking is prohibited. This means that they are no longer being used as a treatment, but in the same manner as any other recreational nicotine or tobacco product and that creates another lucrative market for pharmaceutical companies. Essentially, banning the use of smoke-free tobacco and e-cigarettes, but not pharmaceutical nicotine products, is akin to prohibiting the serving of vodka in favor of whiskey. Therefore, it is becoming increasingly obvious that these laws against smoke-free tobacco products and e-cigarettes are aimed solely at protecting pharmaceutical business interests, not public health.

Laws designed to protect public health are supposed to be based on at least some kind of scientific evidence or else corporate lobbyists and campaign contributions could easily pressure legislators and governments into passing laws which favor their products over a competitor's. Yet governments all over the country are banning public use of smoke-free tobacco products and e-cigarettes without any evidence they are a risk to bystanders, while still allowing the use of pharmaceutical nicotine products. This is a very slippery slope to be on. If you don't think that this unscientific behavior could transfer over to other products just go to New York, where you can no longer buy a 32 ounce soda, but you can still get a big ole' cup of apple juice (which contains just as much sugar and more calories than Coca-Cola.)


  1. This is just sad news to tobacco and cigarette users. But if you switch to electronic cigarettes, I think you won't have to worry about the fine anymore.

    1. Marie, you missed a significant part of this post. E-cigarettes ARE included in this ban. So, even if you switch to e-cigarettes, you cannot use them anywhere (inside or outside) on county property or you face a fine.