Buying Cigarettes
I came - I saw - I bought

City blowing smoke

Just when we think the nanny state might be running out of overreaching ideas, the city of Boston moves to regulate electronic cigarettes, which contain nicotine but no tobacco, in the same way it does regular cigarettes. New regulations approved by the Boston Public Health Commission would ban their use in the workplace and restrict their sale to adults.

We're expecting the Menino administration to pursue government regulation of candy cigarettes next.

Think we're joking?

They contain sugar! They appeal to children! And we know how public health advocates feel about that.

Battery-operated e-cigarettes are designed to simulate the smoking experience, without the same harmful effects of inhaling tobacco. They produce nicotine in mist form, and some studies have suggested they contain cancer-causing ingredients (though in vastly smaller quantities than actual cigarettes). Many medical professionals recommend them as a smoking cessation tool.

And if public health officials want to keep them out of the hands of kids, well, we won't put up a big fight about that (even though plenty of 16- and 17-year-olds may be looking for help quitting the habit).

But not a single study has determined that "second-hand nicotine," which is apparently driving the city's ban on their use in the workplace, poses a public health threat.

So in the absence of data we have... immediate government action!

The workplace ban amounts to a "just-in-case" regulation, and is entirely unjustified. It may even force some smokers back to the real deal if the nicotine fix isn't available in the electronic form. Hey, doesn't the commission have a pigsty encampment they could investigate?

Published: Sunday, December 04, 2011

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