This is what I sent to the legislators in my state (feedback welcome, I'm sure it won't be my last letter!). It's probably too long. I had a lot to say.
I am writing to express my concerns over proposed legislation contained in SB0012, specifically in banning the sale of so-called e-cigarettes ("vaping") over the internet.
I would like to preface this by saying that I DO support regulations that prevent minors from having access to e-cigarettes as well as any other tobacco. But banning online sales of these items will not solve the problem. A kid with a credit card whose parents are oblivious to packages arriving at their home from online vape stores is just as likely to have a car and could drive to Idaho or Wyoming to buy this stuff.
What it does do is prevent those of legal age from having convenient access to these products. People who, for example, might live in Bountiful and are seeing all their shops close because of zoning ordinances.
Why does this matter?
No doubt others who advocate the harm reduction found with e-cigarettes have already told you that smoking and "vaping" are not the same thing. You don't have to take anyone's word for it. Try this simple test: Stand 3 feet away from someone burning tobacco and compare it with standing 3 feet from someone exhaling eLiquid vapor. You will know.
As a person who cares a great deal about the environment, and about the exposure of others to toxic chemicals, it has been a shame of mine that I was ever contributing to that as a smoker.
For a long time I thought the harm was only to me, because I always smoked away from other people and disposed of butts responsibly. Then one day I saw a bird's nest with disgusting, poisonous cigarette butts in it. It was a day of sad truth to me.
I am happy to tell you that I was able to stop tobacco entirely the first day I bought my e-device, and I am gradually reducing the amount of nicotine I use - but very importantly, I am doing it in my own time, in well-controlled amounts, without any of the dangerous side effects I had with other methods.
What else am I not doing? Every week I am not:
- Creating 170 new butts that despite best efforts, often end up in places that harm other people or wildlife. In fact, since I use a rechargeable device with reusable hardware, I have decreased the amount of trash I create by a magnitude.
- Putting the thousands of unregulated, un-accounted for, un-listed chemical ingredients from tobacco smoke into the air.
- Going to sleep with, waking up with, sitting at my desk with - a smoker's hack. I feel amazing. I can breathe again, and run, and fully appreciate now the horrific toxic stench that hangs over Salt Lake City which you really should be focusing on if you care about the respiratory health of Utahns!!
- Supporting big tobacco. I do not purchase any products that are owned by them.
- Finally, I am not paying $12 a week in taxes on tobacco. Which is fitting because I am no longer using of tobacco. Nicotine is not tobacco. If I were using patches or gum, I still wouldn't be paying tobacco tax. I would just be suffering from horrible rashes, dizziness, mouth sores, and heart palpitations from "one size fits all" dosages that never have fit me.
Making it harder for adults to access e-cigarettes is not going to save any kids. It will only prevent people from reducing the amount of trash and toxins and harm they do themselves and others. If you believe that these flavored liquids and devices be a gateway to tobacco, again I would urge you to do your own research... eat a jolly rancher, and compare it to licking an ash tray. I do not believe that kids will want to smoke tobacco due to e-cigarettes, when so many of us who already had the habit, have no desire to go back to it.
As to the rest of SB0012, the idea of raising the smoking age to 21 may have some limited use, but it is easy enough to go online and find study after study that shows most people start smoking long before age 21. I would like to respectfully suggest raising the dying-in-Afghanistan age to at least 21 as well.