Users of electronic cigarettes on social media (many of whom are former smokers) are recruiting fellow vapers to act quickly, as news of a vote favoring an e-liquid ban in the State of New York makes its way across the web.
In case you missed it, the controversy pertains in part to legislation that restricts the sale of e-liquid -- the fluid that e-cig users fill their devices with to vaporize nicotine -- but curiously exempts major manufacturers from the proposed draconian rules. (Read: major tobacco companies that have powerful lobbies and big pockets, not your local e-cig retailer.)
Bill S6939B-2013, which "prohibits the sale or provision of any quantity of electronic liquid used to refill an electronic cigarette or cartridge" and "defines 'electronic liquid' as any liquid composed of nicotine and other chemicals that is sold for use in electronic cigarettes" passed the New York Senate today -- and as many ex-smokers who rely on e-cigs to avoid cigarettes pointed out nationwide, regulations in New York State often influence future restrictions in other states.
In essence, should this e-liquid ban come to fruition in New York (which has been not too shy about laws some consider "nanny stateish" in the past), it's highly likely to have a domino-like effect on legal precedent in e-liquid sales. This particular law is risky for New York vapers, but everyone who has quit using e-cigarettes ought to take notice of this scary development.
Or, in other words, vapers are very likely to get screwed. And cigarette tax revenue will likely go up, by the by.
In the bill, some shaky claims of the "we just don't know" variety totally gloss over the fact that anecdotally, e-cigs are keeping people off the biggest known preventible killer on Earth.
Without any qualification or supplemental information, the New York State e-liquid ban bill claims:
"Between 2012 and 2013, calls to poison control centers involving e-liquids have increased by 300 percent, with 1,351 calls in 2013. According to the Syracuse Post Standard, as of March 2014, 651 calls have been made to poison control centers regarding e-liquids, with over half of these calls involving children under 6 years old. It has also been reported that a teaspoon of highly diluted e-liquids can seriously harm or kill a small child."
Statewide? Nationwide? Globally? In France?
No attempt is made to put the scary numbers into any sort of meaningful context, nor are any other benchmarks given to allow people to understand the scope of the issue -- or if there is an issue at all.
It goes on to state:
"According to the New York Times, an individual died after injecting e-liquids, and another individual in Kentucky was admitted to the hospital with cardiac problems after her e-cigarette broke and the e-liquid was absorbed through her skin."
Since the New York Senate doesn't want to give out any numbers for scale, let's take a look at a different number: 23,600.
That's how many of our state Senate's constituents die each year from "their own smoking," not accounting for spouses, children, and other exposed parties who may develop cancer from secondhand smoke.
So while one person may have died from injecting e-liquid, something that appears to have happened once if that, and one lady in Kentucky got sick when she got e-liquid on her skin, nearly 65 New Yorkers die each day from tobacco-related disease.
Want another number? 280,000 -- the number of kids the anti-tobacco group linked above under the age of 18 living in New York State whose lives will be shorter because of smoking.
What's truly upsetting about the e-liquid ban, though, is that it not only risks the availability of the most promising anti-smoking tool we have to date (these concerns of dangerous nicotine do not extend to patches or gum, which kids are probably far more likely to put in their mouths) -- it also paves the way for tobacco companies to gain control of the e-cig market entirely. (Shutting out the smaller vendors that often prove a valuable support network for new e-cig users.)
Over on Reddit, the r/electronic_cigarette thread widely speculates that the New York State e-liquid ban evidences elected officials serving other masters, given the notable provision that (while killing New York State small business) allows for a pass for brands like Blu -- owned by Lorillard.
In fact, the New York Times just covered Big Tobacco's big interest in e-cigs this week, oddly coinciding with this new legislation to hand those moneyed companies the thriving e-cig market. (At the expense of New York State businesses, did we point out?)
Overall, it's just a really disheartening development for New Yorkers who happen to struggle with a desire to smoke and found a way to quit. Lots of people don't like e-cigs, but they don't have to smoke them -- and state residents who have found success quitting are out of luck because it's clear our elected officials don't really care about measurable tobacco harm reduction when tax revenue and lobby bucks are possibly on the line.
Concerned citizens of New York State who oppose the e-liquid ban (or simply don't like breathing in tobacco smoke) are urged to call their local representatives and make their voices heard on this public health issue. Because either way, you can rest assured Big Tobacco and Big Pharma have put all their weight behind knocking out those pesky indie e-liquid sellers in one of the most populous and influential states.