Constitutional Amendment Banning Vaping Inches Closer To Ballot Vote

Steve Birr | Vice Reporter

A constitutional amendment that heavily restricts vaping by dictating where the devices can be used is inching closer to a November ballot vote in Florida.

The state’s Constitution Revision Commission voted 26 to six Tuesday to advance an amendment that would ban the devices in all workplaces in the state, as well as nursing homes and assisted living facilities. The proposal’s chief sponsor, former Republican state Sen. Lisa 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, reported FOX 13.

The 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.”

The amendment appears to be gaining support, including from Republican Attorney General Pam Bondi, who said Tuesday, “We are just keeping up with technology.”

Former smokers who now rely on vapor products to satiate their cravings say they will be forced back into smoking areas, negating the harm reduction benefits of quitting combustible cigarettes.

“I used to be a heavy black and mild smoker,” Brock Shaffer, a worker at Purely Vapor in Tampa, Fla., told FOX 13. “If you had to go outside to vape, you’re going to be exposed to all of those hardcore cigarettes smokers and the temptation is still there. Hopefully, this bill isn’t passed because it will negatively affect a lot of people that have made a solid life choice in getting away from cigarettes.”

The Constitution Revision Commission’s Style and Drafting Committee is now reviewing the amendment. If it clears a final vote by the commission it will appear on the November ballot, where it will need the support of at least 60 percent of voters to pass.

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.

Research published in the Journal of Aerosol Science in January 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 study determines that vaping is statistically 5,700 times less harmful to users than combustible cigarettes, drastically reducing the risk of developing smoking related illnesses.

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.

Advocates of smoking alternatives say alarmism over vaping misses the larger point about e-cigarettes, namely that they are a harm reduction tool helping millions of smokers quit worldwide.

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Steve Birr

Vice Reporter

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