Devil’s Advocate: Los Angeles ban on vaporizers in public places protects children from the temptation

In Devil's Advocate, Opinion

e-cigs_stdOver the past few years, the popularity of the e-cigarette, or vaporizer, has grown dramatically.

E-cigarettes have been advertised and thought of as a less harmful alternative to traditional smoking.

However, growing concerns about this popular trend have arisen among the most popular cities in America, including New York City, Chicago and Los Angeles.

Some vaporizers look similar to a traditional cigarette, with a white body and light brown top part as well as a glowing light on the tip.

The reason these metal and plastic devices are thought to be safer than traditional cigarettes is because they lack more than 4,000 chemicals that a cigarette has.

The vapor of jet these e-cigarettes create consist of a heated-liquid nicotine solution, which isn’t as harmful as the cloud of smoke created by traditional cigarettes.

But some experts are worried about the unknown factors associated with vaporizers.

Considering the product is relatively new, the potential problems that may come as a result of smoking a vaporizer are still being discovered.

Some people see vaporizers as a method to quit smoking but it can also do the opposite of getting people to quit: enticing new people, especially young adults into picking up a nicotine habit.

Both of these issues are important ones to consider when dealing with overall American health.

Just last week, the Los Angeles City Council agreed in an unanimous 14-0 vote to ban the use of vaporizers in public places.

Just like there is ban on smokers smoking a traditional cigarette in nightclubs, restaurants or bars, the ban has now spread to those who “vape.”

Some vaporizer users and others who support the product are upset, saying there is proof that vaporizers are safer than cigarettes, therefore they should not be treated the same.

However, according to Dr. Jonathan Fielding, the county’s public health director, that is only partially true.

“Safer does not mean safe,” Fielding said. “Although they are less harmful than traditional cigarettes, some e-cigarettes contains some health risks.”

Regardless of what may or may not be better for the user, these two items are closely related.

Call it what it is—smoking.

“Even if it were determined later on that the emissions from e-cigarettes aren’t dangerous to a bystander in an outside environment, the existence of devices like this … in public places does threaten to renormalize the behavior of smoking,” said City Attorney Mike Feuer.

For years, America has stressed the problems that a habitual smoker endures from addiction, such as breathing troubles or cancer. There have been advertisements today that are solely for promoting anti-nicotine awareness.

“E-cigarettes threaten to make smoking socially acceptable after years of advocacy to discourage the habit,” said Jonathan Fielding, director of Los Angeles County Department of Public Health.

Vaporizers need to be put outside where they belong with its closely related cousin, cigarettes.

“When you’re 15, you want to be cool,” said Council President Herb Wesson. “And I will not support anything—anything—that might attract one new smoker.”

The important debate isn’t really about what alternative is safer or if it’s an easier way to quit. The argument is about protecting the curious and young adults who watch these “smokers.”

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  • Nate

    “Call it what it is—smoking”

    This makes as much sense as saying a bicycle is a car because they both have wheels. Vaping is not smoking. Smoking requires smoke. Smoke requires combustion.

    Just because you happen to think something superficially resembles smoking doesn’t mean you get to go around redefining words at your own leisure.

  • Nate

    “The important debate isn’t really about what alternative is safer or if it’s an easier way to quit. The argument is about protecting the curious and young adults who watch these ‘smokers.'”

    Exactly how slippery, pray tell, is this slippery slope you want to create? Should we just ban adults from engaging in any activity that some hypothetical adolescent might hypothetically find appealing?

    When the best rationale for your argument is “protecting the children,” there’s a 99% chance that your argument has no credible basis. In point of fact, tens of thousands (perhaps hundreds of thousands) of people, many of them lifelong, hardcore smokers who had all but given up any hope of quitting, have successfully kicked the habit because of e-cigarettes. These people are no longer condemned to die slow, painful, agonizing deaths due to smoking-related causes. Is the author honestly suggesting that this is less important than the hypothetical actions of hypothetical children?