First, it was New York. Then, Chicago jumped on board. Now, us Philadelphians might be the next set to enact a ban on using e-cigarettes indoors. And, not surprisingly, it’s thanks to Councilman Bill Green.
Green recently introduced legislation into City Council that would push the use e-cigarettes outdoors—just like conventional cigarettes. According to Green—who is a City Councilman and not a medical doctor—the indoor use of e-cigarettes stands a substantial, though potential, health issue.
“It’s completely unknown, the FDA has not studied the impact of the contacts of the vapor of these cigarettes, but there’s also just the sort of general atmosphere that we cant to maintain in our public places,” he said.
You heard the man: guilty until proven innocent. Put ‘em away, boys. Even if studies are pointing toward a completely benign presence.
The Nutter Administration has yet to comment on the pending legislation, though Green expects support from their end. Primarily because Green’s plan also expands the indoor smoking ban Mayor Nutter introduced during his run on City Council.
“We have not talked to him about it but hopefully the mayor would want to maintain a smoke-free environment that a lot of people enjoy in the city due to his previous good work,” Green said.
Make no mistake, though: this is not similarly good work. It is knee-jerk, reactionary, and persecutory, and will serve only to deaden Philly’s quit rate in the face of a new technology that actually gets nicotine users off traditional cigarettes. With Philly’s smoker population already at an insane proportion, “harm reduction” ought to be the name of the game, and taking away a tool to accomplish that goal is the exact opposite of the goal itself.
Instead, it appears that Green is attaching his name to an issue that’s seen nationally as a controversial one—usually due to the unstudied nature of e-cigarettes, which have only been around since about 2003. But rather than enacting an outright ban on the indoor use of e-cigarettes, it might do us well to follow the direction of a majority of states and leave it up to business and property owners. I promise you the sky will not fall.
Or, at least it hasn’t here in the Philly.com offices: