The December 9th entry on the Chicago Sun-Times site brought with it a cause for brief celebration. The headline:

“SURPRISE OPPOSITION DERAILS EMANUEL’S E-CIGARETTE BAN”

Could it be? Did rational thinking prevail once again over the childishly shallow-minded regulatory reflex that holds, “It looks like a cigarette, so we must treat it like a cigarette”? At first blush, it seems so. Quoting the Chicago Sun-Times:

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“Aldermen from across the city questioned whether the vapors from e-cigarettes are any more dangerous to bystanders than a humidifier, a cup of tea or a pot full of boiling water used to cook pasta.

They further argued that the ban would discourage smokers from using e-cigarettes to kick the habit.

“We’re punishing a group of people for trying not to smoke. You can’t have it both ways. You can’t on one day say, ‘We’re going to tax the heck out of cigarettes,’ then the next day [say], ‘For those of you who can’t afford it and decide you want to smoke vapor, we’re going to decide you can’t do that, either,’” said Ald. Leslie Hairston (5th).”

This is certainly good news for Chicago vapers, and for vapers across the country. Why does it matter to a vaper in Boise, for example, what happens in Chicago? Simple. It doesn’t really matter so much to vapers across the country what one official in one city said. What matters is that the truth about vaping is so fundamentally logical, so basically self-evident, that it’s difficult if not impossible for resistance to propaganda about it to not form, even among politicians.

When you disseminate false information about something so insanely intricate and technical that only another expert can contradict you, spreading misinformation is easy. But vaping isn’t intricate enough or technical enough for misinformation about it to withstand scrutiny and common sense.

To be sure, regulators are going to try, anyway. Their careers are based on regulating things, in order to establish new revenue streams for the governments that employ them, generally in the forms of sumptuary taxes, licensing fees, compliance surcharges, you name it. And in order to justify the so-called “need” for regulation, they depend on misinformation to generate fear and guilt.

If your loved ones fear your vaping, and if you feel guilt over vaping rather than quitting nicotine entirely, that $20 tax you pay on top of the $20 cost of your 30ml bottle of eliquid will seem to be just “the right thing to do” and “the price you pay for your habit.” Never mind the fact that it won’t make you any safer, won’t improve the product in any meaningful way, and exists only to reinforce the false notion that there is some “authority” you’re supposed to answer to while fattening the wallets of those who purport to be that “authority.”

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Not that I think we need more evidence of the unvarnished truth of that, but there’s more to be had, so let’s have an unflinching look. Again from the Chicago Sun-Times article:

“Dr. Phillip Gardiner, a University of California expert on nicotine dependence, argued that e-cigarettes not only have the “potential to undo decades of de-normalization of smoking.” They’re a “new source of volatile organic compounds, nicotine and heavy metals” with “27 specific chemicals registered as harmful by the Food and Drug Administration.””

Let’s call “denormalization” what it really is; discrimination against smokers. In short: bigotry. Now, while an argument could have been made before the advent of vaping that maybe this wasn’t bigotry but the cause of public health, it’s now being applied, explicitly, to vaping.

For those who have read the study from Drexel University which has found that “second-hand vaping” poses zero health risk, or for those who have merely heard of this study — in fact, hold on…

 


Now, Dr. Gilbert Ross of ACSH may not understand where these measures are coming from, but I do, and I believe you, Dear Reader, know as well. Let’s say it together:

“Public health is not in government’s interest. Revenue is in government’s interest.

“Public health” is just their excuse for imposing the regulations and taxes

that generate the revenue.”

So what are we seeing in this story out of Chicago? In my opinion, we’re seeing a ray of hope. A light at the end of the tunnel, if you will. We’re not out of the tunnel yet, not by any means, but there is a light. What do I mean? Once more unto the Chicago Sun-Times:

“Ald. “Proco” Joe Moreno (1st) argued that there is “no evidence that nicotine being vaporized is damaging” to other people in the room.

“We’re trying to protect a set of people [who] don’t need protection. I don’t see why we need to protect people from something I can [create] when I make my tea in the morning. I have no problem with my 10-year-old daughter being in the kitchen when that happens,” Moreno said.

Ald. Ray Suarez (31st) pointed to the 50-cents-a-pack increase in Chicago’s cigarette tax tied to Emanuel’s 2014 budget.

“We’re raising peoples’ cost of buying a pack of cigarettes, but they’re trying to quit. They’re going to go to vaping and we’re going to limit that, too. At what point do we stop regulating peoples’ lives and making the excuse of safety when we have no documentation to prove this is even a safety hazard and we have no way of enforcing it?” Suarez said.”

What we’re seeing there is a municipal government’s regulatory reflect being opposed by members of that same municipal government. We’re seeing that when regulation is too absurd, regardless of how much revenue it might generate, there is a step farther than our representatives in government will allow it to go.

The war against vaping isn’t over. But stories like this one should show us that there is hope that freedom of choice can win.

John Castle