The Salem, Oregon City Council voted to ban tobacco and e-cigarette use in public parks.
The ban started on August 22.
The new law also prohibits marijuana use, which is legal in the state, in outdoor public areas.
Steve Buckstein, a senior policy analyst for the Cascade Policy Institute, says bans on smoking in public places lay the groundwork for more bans and restrictions on otherwise legal products.
“Much like people who don’t like guns would like to eventually get rid of all guns, people who don’t like smoking would like to get rid of all smoking,” Buckstein said.
‘Makes No Sense’
Buckstein says the real goal of including e-cigarettes in smoking bans has nothing to do with improving public health.
“There is an argument to be made that e-cigarettes actually help people get off of tobacco,” Buckstein said. “Therefore, smoking bans that include e-cigarettes make no sense. Something else is going on here, and it’s not just the bad effects of tobacco. It’s the nanny state saying you can’t even look like you’re smoking, because it sets a bad example and we can’t have that.”
Buckstein says regulating e-cigarettes is a step toward taxing e-cigarettes as tobacco products.
“Since governments get a lot of revenue off of taxing tobacco products, many bans include e-cigarettes as tobacco products so that they can eventually tax them like tobacco,” Buckstein said.
Impatience and ‘Good Intentions’
Michael Marlow, a professor of economics at California Polytechnic State University, says e-cigarette bans are based on emotions, not grounded in science.
“I look at this lineage as a sign that the paternalist public health officials lost patience for, or have become intolerant of, citizens refusing to listen to their good intentions about smoking,” Marlow said.
Marlow says e-cigarette bans and taxes are useful to elected officials, but they don’t do anything except burden or harm the public.
“There are two things going on,” Marlow said. “One, it is a revenue grab issue. The other is that if e-cigarettes are as effective as many of the reports say in terms of getting people to quit or to cut back their consumption significantly, it’s a huge threat to the tobacco control crowd.”
Marlow says if elected officials’ goal were to improve public health, they would promote e-cigarette use for smokers trying to kick the habit, not ban them.
“If you really are concerned about secondary smoke, it seems you would want to go with e-cigarettes being encouraged rather than discouraged,” said Marlow.
Tony Corvo ([email protected]) writes from Beavercreek, Ohio.
Angela Alamo, et al., “Electronic Cigarette: A Possible Substitute For Cigarette Dependence,” Archivio Monaldi Per Le Malattie Del Torace: https://www.heartland.org/policy-documents/electronic-cigarette-possible-substitute-cigarette-dependence/