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Voice of Reason Heard (Finally) in Illinois

Voice of Reason Heard (Finally) in Illinois

Good news! An Illinois legislator who introduced a vaping ban last month has actually decided, after consulting with some of her vaping constituents, to moderate her bill! Could it be that there are politicians who listen, and whose opinions are not written in stone and immutable? And in Illinois yet, where the nanny government of that allegedly "toddlin' town" of Chicago has taken a much more uncompromising stance. Will wonders never cease? Probably not.

Kathleen Willis, a state congressperson from the Chicago suburb of Addison (and presumably no relation to the eponymous Brent Willis, CEO of ECIG, across the lake in Michigan), wanted to rid the world of e-cigs – until her constituents educated her. Initially, Willis proposed a state-wide ban on all indoor vaping, similar to the one enacted last year in the windy city, but her revised bill will seek to ban vaping only in or near schools, and in government facilities.

After hearing from thousands of constituents, she initiated talks with e-cig users, vape-shop owners, and health care professionals – talks that prompted her decision to change course. “Until we get the final ruling of what’s in the byproduct of electronic cigarettes," said the savvy statesperson, "it’s becoming a very difficult fight to fight.”

“That doesn’t mean I’m not up to it, she continued, "but everybody agrees that electronic cigarettes are a better alternative than regular cigarettes, and we don’t want to discourage people from going and using electronic cigarettes.” Note that the usual "probably" is missing from the phrase "a better alternative". Mild earth tremors were felt in the area of the Illinois capital of Springfield, and Chicago mayor Rahm Emmanuel floated away on his umbrella. Here we have an actual lawmaker agreeing that inhaling propylene glycol vapor with trace elements of a few toxicants is not probably but certainly better than inhaling smoke with high levels of thousands of carcinogens.

There are other grounds for optimism in the language of Seth Richardson's article on the matter, published in the Peoria (Illinois) Journal Star. "The devices are frequently used to quit smoking," states Richardson. No "probably" here either. No cautionary note about how we supposedly don't yet know. Richardson appears to be familiar with the growing body of evidence on this matter, and gives us a straightforward declamatory statement, in the indicative mood. Vaping does help you quit, Richardson knows it, and he says so with no "ifs", "ands", or "buts". No equivocations in deference to misinformed blogs out of the University of California at San Francisco.

All of this is to suggest that the journalistic community may be allowing itself to be educated on the matter of electronic cigarettes.

Can legislators and regulators be far behind? Well, alas, yes, they can, but at least this is progress.

The revised bill is expected to receive bipartisan support. Grudgingly ("co-sponsors wanted her to continue with the blanket ban"), but they will support the compromise, Willis says.