Many of us doubted that the evidence [behind smoking bans] really mattered. As I wrote in The Oregonian/OregonLive at the time, "Protecting workers is simply the polite fiction by which nonsmokers have imposed their will on an increasingly unpopular minority."
We suspected this, but how could we prove it? What if there were a device that looked like a cigarette and mimicked the effects of smoking, yet emitted a mostly harmless vapor instead of tobacco smoke? If authorities tried to ban that too, without bothering to establish that it endangered anyone, then our suspicions would be vindicated.
That device exists. It's called an e-cigarette. And sure enough, the Multnomah Board of County Commissioners is voting on whether to ban its use indoors. The Legislature, too, may expand the state's smoking ban to cover vaping.
The evidence that e-cigarettes cause significant harm to users, much less to bystanders, is weak to non-existent. The county's case against them is that they sort of look like smoking. Vaping indoors, says the Board of Health for Multnomah County, "threatens to undermine compliance with smoking regulations and reverse the progress that has been made in establishing a social norm that smoking is not permitted in public places and places of employment."
Never mind whether any real person has ever been confused by this. Ask instead why merely keeping up appearances is a matter for the law. If simulated smoking must be banned in bars just to send a healthy message, then my God, think of all the actual drinking going on!Yep, it's never been about health.
For those of us old enough to remember when smoking ban advocates cited real evidence, the current movement to ban vaping confirms what we suspected all along: That this isn't about protecting people, it's about controlling them, and that empirical research is relevant only to the extent that it helps the political cause.
The state and county should proceed with sensible plans to restrict sales of e-cigarettes to minors. But we should treat adults as adults, upholding the liberal principle that how they live is up to them, so long as they are not credibly harming others. If the worst that health officials can say about e-cigarettes is that they don't like the way they look, then they ought to learn the public virtue of minding their own business.And politicians should start ignoring the transparently policy-led bullshit the public health industry increasingly pretends is 'science' or 'evidence'.
Go read Jacob's whole article here. Note too the comments where the usual hideous anti-social types in society - to whom the tobacco control industry panders for their very existence - throw tantrums because someone dares to point out that governments shouldn't exist to pass laws giving the intolerant, bigoted and hateful the world on a stick.