Constitutional Amendment Restricting Vaping Inches Closer To State Ballot

Steve Birr | Vice Reporter

A constitutional amendment that labels electronic cigarettes as tobacco products, banning them in a litany of venues, is inching closer to a public vote.

A panel on the Florida Constitution Revision Commission voted unanimously Tuesday to approve an aggressive anti-vaping proposal that conflates the health risks of cigarettes and vapor products. Former state Sen. Lisa Carlton, a Republican, wants the state to reform their clean air standards to include e-cigarettes, which would effectively ban the devices in all all workplaces in the state, as well as nursing homes and assisted living facilities, reports the Sun Sentinel.

Carlton claims residents of Florida are adversely impacted by e-cigarette use and are being unfairly exposed to second-hand “toxins” in the vapor released from the devices. Her goal is to put the proposal to voters on the 2018 state ballot.

“Daily across the state of Florida, Floridians are subjected to vaping,” Carlton said Tuesday, according to the Sun Sentinel. “No one should be forced to endure a cloud of harmful vapor in their cubicle as they work to support their families. No parent should have to worry about the health of their child because someone is vaping at the adjoining restaurant table, movie-theater seat, grocery store or next to them inside the mall.”

Advocates of alternative nicotine technology say vapers are generally considerate about their habit, arguing claims that e-cigarette users are causing a public nuisance with large clouds of vapor are overblown.

Recent research also shows vapor from e-cigarettes does not pose any meaningful secondhand risks. A forthcoming study investigating the health impact of aerosol vapor emitted from the devices shows that chemical levels in the vapor released from e-cigarettes are well below the safety limits suggested by both the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the World Health Organization.

The research, set to be published in the Journal of Aerosol Science in January, determined that vaping is statistically 5,700 times less harmful to users than combustible cigarettes, drastically reducing the risk of developing smoking related illnesses.

The Florida Constitution Revision Commission meets every 20 years to discuss updates to the Florida Constitution and has the authority to put issues to the people through a ballot vote without approval from the state legislature. Carlton’s proposed amendment would change the “Workplaces without Tobacco Smoke” section of the constitution to “Workplaces without Tobacco Smoke or Vapor.”

Critics of vaping crackdowns like the proposal in Florida say they actually undermine public health goals by restricting use of the products to areas where smoking is allowed. Smokers may be less likely to ever attempt quitting with a vape if the products are relegated to the status of combustible cigarettes.

The rules also suggest to the public that vaping carries similar health risks as combustible tobacco, dissuading smokers who might otherwise quit with an e-cigarette from trying the devices.

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Steve Birr

Vice Reporter

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