Dec. 30, 2013
On Dec. 23, 2013 Gov. Mary Fallin issued an executive order (Executive Order 2013-43) banning the use of e-cigarettes or personal vapor devices on any and all property owned, leased or contracted for use by the State of Oklahoma “including but not limited to all buildings, land, and vehicles owned, leased or contracted for use by agencies or instrumentalities of the State of Oklahoma.”
There are many problems with this approach and as a result a backlash is brewing in Oklahoma.
Many are outraged by the action itself apart from the issue of e-cigarettes entirely. Oklahoma is a decidedly populist leaning state and the public generally frowns upon unilateral, un-deliberated decision making such as the edict issued by Governor Fallin in 2012 banning all tobacco use on state property and her most recent arbitrary addition of e-cigarettes (which contain no tobacco) to the previous ban. It is also arguable that this executive order exceeds the scope of power of the Governors office.
The order becomes effective on Jan 1st, a mere ten days after the governor issued it and despite the order being announced right before Christmas when it could have been overlooked entirely, it has prompted a cadre of Oklahoma citizens (many of whom neither smoke or ‘vape’) to answer the call for an assembly at the state Capitol on Jan. 1st at 1PM to express their disapproval of her unilateral lawmaking and poor reasoning for issuing the e-cigarette ban.
If you want to know more about this event, follow this link to Snuff Out the BAN!
As of today about 100 (and rising!) Oklahomans have committed to demonstrating their ire with the Governor by showing up at the Capitol on Jan. 1st. Some of the participants plan to go as far as actual civil disobedience but all will stand in evidence of their disapproval of the governor’s stroke-of- the pen, unilateral lawmaking.
One thing that makes the e-cigarette prohibitions so politically explosive at this time is that the devices are now used widely enough that many people have had some direct or indirect experience with them and have witnessed the benefits. We have used the devices ourselves or have friends and loved ones, otherwise hopeless smokers, that have succeeded in reducing or quitting smoking with vapor products where all else has failed. Many have experienced close contact with vapor users and have appreciated the absence of any noxious odor associated with cigarettes and they have shared the enthusiasm of those that have freed themselves from the health burdens of smoking. We have asked our doctors about using e-cigarettes and have most often been told that ‘vaping’ is far safer than continuing to smoke.
These alarmist statements being made by our public officials regarding vapor devices directly contradict our own experiences as well as defy common sense and as a result, many are beginning to smell a rat. I don’t know if these officials realize it, but their overwrought reactions to the rise in popularity of these relatively benign vaporizing devices is causing them to lose public confidence and personal credibility.
Fallin’s executive order lays out the reasoning behind the ban. I find the reasoning weak. A lot of this has been covered in a rebuttal to the Oklahoma State Department of Health’s Public advisory on E-cigarettes which can be accessed here.
One faulty point that Fallin uses to justify the need for a ban is the result of an embarrassing misreading of existing e-cigarette research by the Oklahoma State Department of Health. Executive Order 2013-43 states that secondary e-cigarette vapor contains formaldehyde.
The actual research that the Oklahoma State Department of Health is basing this claim on (see footnotes for their sources) did show a minute increase in formaldehyde that began when the subjects entered the testing room and BEFORE they even began using the e-cigarette.
In the study cited by OSDH the researchers themselves note that the increase in formaldehyde “might be caused by the person in the chamber itself, because people are known to exhale formaldehyde in low amounts”
If you want to know more about this, Dr. Farsalinos, a Greek cardiologist and researcher does a great job covering the actual findings of the German study that Fallin and the OSDH are basing their formaldehyde claims on here
Protecting Public Health?
Governor Fallin, by acting in what may appear to be an overabundance of caution, chose to limit the ability to utilize technology that is already helping thousands of Oklahomans successfully reduce or quit cigarette smoking altogether. She did this without public discussion or debate and without the input of our elected representatives and she did so even though there is little disagreement among scientists, whether for or against, that ‘vaping,’ is much safer than smoking.
“We have every reason to believe the hazard posed by electronic cigarettes would be much lower than 1% of that posed by (tobacco) cigarettes . . .if we get all tobacco smokers to switch from regular cigarettes (to electronic cigarettes), we would eventually reduce the US death toll from more than 400,000 a year to less than 4,000, maybe as low as 400.” –Joel Niztkin, MD, MPH, DPA, FACPM, Chair, Tobacco Control Task Force, American Association of Public Health Physicians
As pointed out by The McCarville Report, there is no reason to believe that electronic cigarettes present a public health hazard. Nevertheless, Governor Fallin implemented this ban under the guise of safety and protection of public health.
Given this fact, it is interesting to note that implicit in Governor Fallin’s new (and ALL tobacco control) policy that deters smokers from using vapor devices as an alternative to smoking cigarettes, is promotion for pharmaceutical smoking cessation products including Chantix which, unlike e-cigarettes, is actually implicated in some truly dangerous adverse side-effects.
(Read the resource page for policy implementation for Executive Order 2012-43 at OK.gov. Promotion of the Oklahoma Tobacco Helpline that recommends and provides pharmaceutical smoking cessation products is part and parcel of the policy. http://www.ok.gov/health/Wellness/Tobacco_Prevention/E-cigarettes_and_Other_Vapor_Products/E-cigarettes_and_State_Property/)
Chantix is FDA approved but does that mean it is safe?
The FDA itself warns that this drug can cause serious psychiatric problems, including suicidal thinking. In addition a wide range of side effects attributed to Chantix have been reported including cardiovascular events, diabetes and renal failure. Source In 2009, the FDA approved smoking cessation drug, Chantix, was deemed to require a ‘black box’ warning on the label to alert users to dangerous possible side-effects.
As of March 2012 there were approximately 2,500 lawsuits filed against Pfizer over adverse effects of Chantix.
How does banishing a product like electronic cigarettes that have no indication of significant adverse effects and instead promoting a drug like Chantix protect the public’s health?
What we are finding when we take the time to research the facts about vapor devices and products, is that something is awry. E-cigarette bans are not in the best interests of public health. Banning them through executive order is an example of poor policy-making that undermines representative government at best and blatant protectionism for established corporate government partners at worst.