Because They Can

by Andrew Stuttaford

Reason’s Jacob Sullum discovers another example of nannies amok:

 Yesterday the Boston Public Health Commission voted to ban the use of electronic cigarettes in workplaces, including outdoor areas such as restaurant patios. It says it is simply “clos[ing] a loophole” by “treat[ing] e-cigarettes like tobacco products.” But since e-cigarettes do not contain any tobacco and do not generate smoke (merely a propylene glycol vapor containing nicotine), that is a puzzling way to characterize the decision. The official justification for banning smoking in workplaces is protecting employees and other bystanders from the toxins and carcinogens generated when tobacco is burned. Let’s leave aside the questions of how dangerous secondhand smoke really is and whether the government has any business regulating it on private property. In the absence of evidence that e-cigarettes are a hazard to other people, what possible justification is there for treating them the same as conventional cigarettes? I mean, they look like cigarettes, but surely that superficial resemblance is not enough for a scientifically grounded agency like the Boston Public Health Commission.

Pretty much, as it turns out.

But read the whole thing and judge for yourself. So far as I can see the whole story is yet another reminder that the anti-tobacco jihad of the last couple of decades has been as much (or more) about control as about health. 

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