Proposed ban on e-cigarettes in public places draws opposition

Proposed ban on e-cigarettes in public places draws opposition

(Photo by momentimedia on Flickr Creative Commons)

Listen to this article

By Margaret Sessa-Hawkins

E-giarette (Photo by momentimedia on Flickr Creative Commons

(Photo by momentimedia on Flickr Creative Commons)

Maryland became the latest in a series of states struggling with how to regulate electronic cigarettes this past week when a bill aiming to ban them in public places was heard in a House committee.

Most e-cigarettes don’t contain tobacco, and don’t even emit smoke the way traditional cigarettes do. But many worry that the vapor they produce could be harmful if inhaled second hand and that, by making nicotine inhalation publicly acceptable again, e-cigarettes encourage teen addiction.

“We’ve had teachers and parents approach us about teachers in the classroom and substitute teachers vaping in front of students and we don’t believe that’s a social norm we’re trying to push forward,” Donald Shell of the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene told the House Economic Matters Committee.

Unlike traditional cigarettes, which burn tobacco, most e-cigarettes use an atomizer to vaporize a liquid solution containing nicotine, which is then inhaled by the user in a process known as ‘vaping’. Due to their relative newness, concrete data on how e-cigarettes affect health is relatively scarce.

Despite this, HB1291, sponsored by 19 delegates led by Del. Aruna Miller. D-Montgomery, aims to alter the definition of smoking in the Clean Indoor Air Act to include all forms of vaping as well, thus banning e-cigarettes in all locations where traditional cigarettes are also banned.

Ban unnecessary and counterproductive, opponents say

Opponents of the bill argue that it is unnecessary and counterproductive. They claim that far from being an equivalent to regular cigarettes, e-cigarettes are a much healthier alternative to smoking, and actually help many kick their cigarette addiction.

During the hearing scores of individuals brought personal stories before the committee of how e-cigarettes had helped them quit after decades of trying.

“Being able to use an e-cigarette in a bar or one’s office is a major draw,” said Carl Phillips, scientific director for the Consumer Advocates for Smoke-free Alternative Association. “Come for the convenience, stay for the 99% reduction in health risk.”

A counterargument, however, is that rather than reducing tobacco use, e-cigarettes actually encourage smoking by acting as a gateway device which gets users hooked on nicotine. Although manufacturers claim they market e-cigarettes primarily to those wishing to stop smoking, the number of minors using e-cigarettes more than doubled from 2011 to 2012. E-cigarettes are sold in flavors including vivid vanilla, cherry crush, and Captain Crunch.

“Lack of health warning labels and novelty flavorings have now made e-cigarettes the gateway product for many youth to a lifelong addiction to nicotine,” said Miller. “Allowing the use of these products in our schools, libraries, employment centers and public places further promotes the use of addictive products for our youth.”

Miller and other proponents of the e-cigarette ban point out that organizations have had 50 years to study the damage caused by smoking in public places and second-hand smoke. They contend that by the time adequate studies have been conducted on the effects of public and second-hand vaping, the damage may have already been done.


  1. Dale McNamee

    Regarding teachers “vaping” in the classroom… Teachers don’t smoke cigarettes,cigars,or pipes in classrooms, so I wouldn’t worry about “vaping”… Or would you prefer that they toke a joint,smoke a bowl, use a “bong” in the classroom ? Ahh…the sweet smell of pot…(sarcasm)
    Grow up and use “common sense” if you have it… You’re more dangerous to children than “vaping” or actual tobacco smoking…
    While smoking hurts the body, people such as you hurt the soul with your poisonous thinking…

  2. Tiredofthebans

    I always found it interesting that groups like the FDA and other clearly anti-e cig groups will throw out phrases like “We’re just not sure what the effects are” or “We can’t be sure they’re safe”, while independent researchers are doing more and more to actually find a hardline answer. Maybe the FDA and other groups are trying to just sidestep the issue regardless? I’ve been using Firelight Fusion e cigs for a while now, and while I live in a relatively small town nobody’s ever given me (or my vaping family members) flack over them. I think more and more people are just giving knee-jerk reactions based on emotional (and rightful) hatred towards regular cigarettes.

  3. Clean Air

    Unbelievable to not think that bubble gum and “Captain Crunch” flavored e-cigarettes is not targeting kids. You have a WAY higher opinion of the peddlers of highly addictive products than I do.

    And for it helping people quit smoking. Three cheers. Smok’em if you got’em. But just because you have a nicotine habit doesn’t give you the right to pollute my air.

    • cnn381

      I am adult and I like blueberry, orange creamsicle, strawberry cheesecake, cotton candy. I imagine I would like bubble gum and captain crunch also. How do you propose this be handled? Not allow flavors other than tobacco because children may be interested in these flavors? Traditional menthol cigarettes are like smoking toothpaste or tic tacs…

      I do agree that my addiction is not your problem, nor should you suffer any side effect from my addiction, real or imagined. I believe my fear is that this is just the start of the attack on ecigarettes. There’s talk of taxing it as heavily as traditional cigarettes… yet the patch/gum/chantix is not taxed this heavily or are they so demonized. Can’t local establishments set the rules for themselves? I understand a classroom… but a bar?

      I agree these products should be age restricted, but even then… what kids want, kids will get their hands on. Weed isn’t bubble gum or Captain Crunch flavored, but it doesn’t have to be, does it?

    • Guest

      I like Sugar Cookie and Root Beer and I’m 27. You know they have flavored coffee, booze and beers, right? Also please stop driving and polluting my air. Your car should be banned.

    • Baffled by bans and hysteria

      This is absolutely ridiculous. I have completely stopped smoking using vaporizers. I have found article after article after video explaining that there is NO evidence that there is ANYTHING harmful in the exhaled water vapor produced. In fact, if I’m “polluting YOUR air,” explain this; I have been visiting my mother who has chronic asthma and hyperactive airways. She cannot tolerate the use of air fresheners, perfumes, etc. without suffering an attack and has had to stop traveling aboard cruise ships that allow smoking due to her condition. HOWEVER, I have been using my ecig IN THE HOUSE, IN the SAME ROOM with her for days without a SINGLE repercussion for her asthma. The water vapor that I exhale causes absolutely NO issue and I use a refillable tank with 18mg of nicotine in the glycerin. It has been repeatedly discussed that the exhaled vapor contains nothing but water vapor. Do your research before you post such ignorant, fear-mongering comments, would you?

  4. abby_adams

    To the progressives trying to dictate our every move, legal tobacco products which have provided the state & fed govs much revenue is bad. Yet toking up on marijuana is good? Oh I forgot it’s only for “medical” reasons. Please just legislate what’s necessary, take care of the roads, lower taxes & dump the social agenda. We’re sick & tired of being used as ATMs & then being part of the progressive agenda of social tinkering. Do they want people to quit smoking or what? Quitting is as complex as the people who smoke so at least consider giving those for whom e-cigs work a chance.

    • TechZilla

      It’s not progressive. it’s supported by corporatists as a way of protecting traditional tobacco product sales, and elitists because they know always what’s best for us. The progressives were the ones that actually promoted ending alcohol prohibition. Essentially you could call it Social Corporatism, in the style of that shmuck Bloomberg. Now that E-cigarettes don’t threaten our health, they lost their goto reason for hating cigarettes… but it was always a BS lie, they don’t actually give a crap about our health, they just are neo-prohibitionists that want to tell us how to live our own lives. And Marijuana should be legal, simply because the government has no business imprisoning people for personal consumption choices….. for the same reason Alcohol should be legal.

  5. Dale McNamee

    Marijuana & THC are OK…But,E-Cigarettes with nicotine isn’t… More moronic Maryland thoughts…And it’s not only confined to Annapolis, it’s just more concentrated there…
    Remember, Be wary of stupid people in large groups…

  6. cnn381

    How do people compare traditional cigarettes to electronic cigarettes and not sit in awe over the many, many, MANY benefits that electronic cigarettes are giving smokers?! There may be no study defining the true “long term” effects, BUT it DOES give smokers an alternative to try and kick the poison ridden traditional cigarettes, whose “long term” effects are rammed down our throats! To deny this opportunity, this tool, to save SO MANY LIVES is simply disgusting! Be honest, is it to keep children off nicotene? Under age children are getting their cigarettes if they want them! Have the wool over your eyes all you want, they are! Just like they are getting their joint, their ecstasy, etc. It’s about control and the yearning to keep control over the people in every way possible, while keeping their hand in the tobacco industry’s pocket. It’s disgusting! Almost as disgusting as receiving an email from Marlboro to tell me “Happy Birthday”! Yes, Marlboro, blessed to see another year, but no thanks to you! Vape juice doesn’t even require any nicotene at all, 0nic is available should people just want to enjoy vaping. Regulate what?! Put this with the consideration and legalization of POT sweeping this country?! Our poor children! Legislators need to get their heads out of their axxholes! The real concern is keeping tobacco industry’s pumping in money! Ecig is taking them out…slowly.

    The idea that a teacher is vaping in her classroom is really ridiculous and BEGS for a debate.. WAY TO GO moron! But parents coming and inquiring trumps saving tons of lives right now. I see. I get some people (said teachers) have no common sense, but that should be handled locally within the establishment, not act as a whip to crack down on all vapers (former smokers kicking the habit!). Parents, do your freaking job… and vapers, use your freaking brain!

    Is it nicotene that’s the problem child here or the other 500 poisons in just one traditional cigarette?! Full circle, someone else said it best:

    “Nicotine on its own, while addictive, does not appear to be bad for you, which is why health officials sign off on nicotine replacement therapies that don’t have the tar and other chemicals that you find in real cigarettes. The panic over nicotine addiction in and of itself seems circular: Nicotine addiction is bad because addiction is bad. Addiction is bad because don’t you know that addiction is bad? I’ll explain it to you just as soon as I finish this cup of coffee.”

    • Clean Air

      Your lobbying that companies should be able to sell addictive products with no oversight, warnings or regulation. If you get a kick out of sucking the fumes of an exhaust pipe that’s your right. But dont blow your vapor smoke on me.

      How many kids I see smoking these things. They advertise on TV, sell fruity flavors. There are billions to be made by unscrupulous peddlers of nicotine…by the way most of these e-cigarettes are made in China. How about a little lead, mercury, or Lord knows what with your vapor…..Enjoy!

      • cnn381

        I didn’t intend for my “rant” on the subject to be viewed as “lobbying” first off. Second, I didn’t say these should be sold without oversight, warnings or regulation… perhaps you gathered it from my “Regulate what?!” When juice can be sold with 0 nicotene, what exactly are you regulating there? Do you ban public use of inhalers to reduce your risk of it polluting your air too?

        I do wholeheartedly believe these should not be sold to minors, and I will say again, kids will get what they want to get their hands on still! I am for it, but kids will still get it if they want it and just as you demand, I and others not blow our vapor on you, I demand that people not take things from me just because they can’t control their children!

        This may not be a livesaving tool for you in particular or someone you love. Sure, lots are made from China, but they are also made right here in the USA! Provari and Johnson Creek… AMERICAN made with pride and quality! What about the “medication” in inhalers? Do you research if it’s all American made? Real information is out there if you actually want it! Unless some article directly summarizes this information for you and others, it’s goes ignored while people continue to demonize, staying blissfully ignorant with discontentment… and it just hurts people that can genuinely benefit. <--- the reason FOR my rant in the first place. Finally, I get that non-smokers are entitled to their fresh, clean air. As long as it is only contaminated by the pollution from the actual exhaust pipes and everything else polluting our environment... even the occassional fart in the car or office.... or heaven forbid the stranger in the elevator... Does the FDA tell you the long term effects of inhaling emissions resulting from someone's lunch burrito? Why must I suffer because someone likes burritos?

      • Guest

        Clean Air is a shill for big tobacco. How much is Altria paying your for astroturfing?

    • Sandy Webb

      I have smoked since 15. Decided coming up to 50 to be a good girl and try via vaping to swop over and start being healthier than ciggies. Doing well via vaping but finding more stigma and ostracised cos of vaping than cigarettes grr! 🙁

  7. RT

    What’s appalling is that e-cigarettes can be sold to minors. That’s what the focus should be on. There is no age restrictions for e-cigarettes. Just like cigarette smoking it should be up to individual establishments on whether they want to allow them or not. If they don’t want teachers doing it in front of students then that’s what the law should be.

    • Guest

      Where is this? I’ve been asked for ID at every e-cig store I’ve been to here in Maryland. Is that your personal experience or is that something you just read and ran with?

    • BDB

      RT you obviously havent done any research into the e-cig. Any website you enter will promtly ask if your of age (being 18). Like every other website that ask for age their is no way for them to varify thats persons age. I agree there should be a ban to minors but i see that being unnecessary because most (not all) the stores are not selling to anyone under 18. If you know someone that does not promote the ban to minors you should contact them and i am sure they will agree 100%.

  8. Opinion

    Of course the fight against e-cigarettes is led by someone from the ultra-liberal socialistic Montgomery County delegation, home of the Nanny State. . Maryland — the State that is considering legalizing marijuana and at the same time considering banning e-cigarettes. This would be laughable if it weren’t so stupid. E-cigarettes a “gateway device” but marijuana isn’t a gateway drug? The logic here escapes me! It begs the question, “What the heck are they smoking in Annapolis???”

  9. Carl Phillips

    Nice article. I was not going for a soundbite with that line, but I guess it works for it. This does a great job of showing just how tenuous and tangential the arguments in favor of the ban are: So you do not like the image of teachers vaping in front of their classroom? Fine, make a rule that disallows that, which is not too difficult given that teachers are highly regulated and most of them work for the government. But what does that have to do with banning use in bars and private offices?

    The gateway argument is always the last refuge of moralizing activists who know they lack a leg to stand on. There is no reason to expect it would happen (notice that they never offer one) and no evidence that it has happened or will. As for the “50 years to study” observation, does he really think that science today has not advanced beyond what we knew in 1955? I have addressed that point here:

Support Our Work!

We depend on your support. A generous gift in any amount helps us continue to bring you this service.