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Politicos make points with bogus vaping issues

In a highly uncharacteristic move (wink!), politicians everywhere are hurrying to ally themselves with an issue that has aroused public fear and outrage, despite the fact that the measures they are advocating are already foregone conclusions.

Given that the new deeming regulations, now being considered by the US Food and Drug Administration, propose a ban on sale of electronic cigarettes to minors as a primary goal, one that will almost certainly become nationwide law in the very near future, why would political figures waste everybody's time by duplicating such popular enactments at the local level. Surely the elected officials to whom we entrust the defense of the public interest would not stoop to scrounging for political advantage by jumping on a bandwagon that is already sure of success.

Would they?

In San Antonio, a city councilman has introduced a measure that would create such a ban in the Texas city, noting that vaping supplies stores by and large already observe such a restriction, a fact that goes even further to make such an ordinance an exercise in pointlessness. A political advantage to the councilman himself would seem to be the primary motivation. The name is withheld here simply because it would be unfair to single out this particular politico. This is just the instance that hit the newsstands today – there are dozens of such stories every week.

Everyone is rushing to cash in on the photo ops, publicity, and public opinion points that can be gained by allying oneself with public outrage over this non-issue. In fact, everybody in the vaping supplies industry has been advocating just such a ban for a long time now, but that won't stop politicos from scrambling for points by pointing an accusatory finger. Look again, Councilman – let Mitch do it.

The Texas councilman links the issue with another object of public outrage and fear, the fact that toddlers sometimes drink the nicotine liquid their careless vaper parents may leave lying around: "Over the past few years, the number of children using e-cigarettes has grown exponentially and emergency room visits for children poisoned by nicotine has risen dramatically." It doesn't take a great deal of thought to see that, aside from being on the same fear-and-outrage-laden topic, these two phenomena are completely unrelated.

A middle-schooler buying a dangerous product on the way home from school, and a toddler drinking a substance carelessly left around, are not linked. The teen is not going to drink the e-liquid out of his e-cig, he's going to vape it. (… and he shouldn't – everyone agrees we must prevent him from doing that, since aside from unproven addiction questions, nicotine is certifiably bad for the developing adolescent brain.) But it's not connected with what his little sister does with a little bottle of tasty but dangerous sweets that mom foolishly left within her reach. (Besides which, it only made li'l sis throw up, since nobody can keep the stuff down, so it hasn't done serious damage yet, and is unlikely to do so.)

In any case, child-proofing such containers is pretty much of a no brainer, and is also about to happen anyway – it's also mentioned prominently in the proposed deeming regs. That doesn't stop a New York senator from going to the media with a child-proofing law. So once again, political points with a fearful public seem to be the primary motivation for draping oneself in the banner of protecting our children by restricting sale of vaping products.