Florida Editorial Board Rejects Proposed Constitutional Amendment To Restrict Vaping

Steve Birr | Vice Reporter

Critics of a proposed amendment to restrict the use of vapor products in Florida called on officials Wednesday to learn more about harm reduction devices before pushing a statewide ban.

The Gainesville Sun editorial board is calling an effort to dictate where vaping devices can be used a “premature” move that ignores existing peer-reviewed research showing vapor products greatly reduce health harms from combustible cigarettes. State regulators and voters should be patient in understanding the potential role of vapor products in reducing cigarette use before heavily restricting the devices, the editorial argued.

The state’s Constitution Revision Commission (CRC) is currently considering an amendment to appear on the November ballot that would ban devices in all workplaces in the state, as well as nursing homes and assisted living facilities. Former Republican state Sen. Lisa Carlton, commissioner of the CRC, claims residents of Florida are adversely impacted by e-cigarette use and are being unfairly exposed to secondhand “toxins” in the vapor released from the devices.

“While we agree that e-cigs raise sufficient health concerns to users to keep them out of the hands of minors, particularly high-schoolers, Carlton’s big-government crackdown on adult vapers, even if done under the guise of voter approval, should be rejected until we better understand the full health effects of e-cigs,” the editorial said.

Current evidence doesn’t warrant Carlton’s fears over secondhand exposure, it noted.

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 determined that vaping is statistically 5,700 times less harmful to users than combustible cigarettes, drastically reducing the risk of developing smoking related illnesses.

Despite scientific evidence, the proposal appears to be gaining support, including from Republican Attorney General Pam Bondi. “We are just keeping up with technology,” Bondi said on March 20.

“Carlton’s idea will likely pass because smokers of any stripe make good villains,” the editorial said. “But that should not be the standard. Here’s a radical idea: before we ban a perfectly legal product and shun its users, let’s fully understand the health risks. That might take time. Meanwhile, and if necessary, leave it to individual companies to decide whether their employees and customers should be subjected to the perils Carlton sees in the puff of a vaper’s smoke.”

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

“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,” Brock Shaffer, a former smoker and worker at Purely Vapor in Tampa, Fla., recently told FOX 13.

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

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Steve Birr

Vice Reporter

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