The City Council of Duluth, Minnesota will take up a new set of regulations for e-cigarettes at an upcoming meeting that unfairly lumps these products in with traditional tobacco. By banning the use of tobacco-free e-cigarettes in the same locations as cigarettes, the City Council is using unnecessary force on a product that poses no threat to the public.

The emerging popularity of tobacco free products should be encouraging to Council members, not concerning. Studies have shown that electronic cigarettes stand to improve health and prevent disease. By using e-cigs instead of smoking cigarettes, consumers can obtain a nicotine fix without the combustion and smoke — responsible for much of the negative health effects of tobacco cigarettes. For smokers already addicted to nicotine, e-cigs provide an alternative delivery mechanism that does not come with the proven harm that results from smoking.

An unintended consequence of this proposed ban could be to keep Duluth citizens smoking tobacco cigarettes, a product that kills hundreds of thousands of people annually. E-cigs help people end their dependence on traditional cigarettes, which is extremely beneficial from a policy perspective.  

What about second-hand effects? A study released this month by Drexel University concluded that the chemicals in e-cigs are not harmful to users or those in their proximity. That’s probably because you’re producing water vapor.

As ATR’s Patrick Gleason recently pointed out in Reuters:

This new attack on e-cigs demonstrates that for many politicians, it really was always about bossing people around.

Members of the Duluth City Council would be wise to sack the proposed ban on e-cigs and focus on other, more pressing issues.