Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Another Waste of Government Money?

In an interesting move it seems the state of Illinois may be the first to outlaw electronic cigarettes, the alternative to tobacco use by cigarette smokers.   Legislators and anti-smoking groups are working to ban the sale of these items citing “lack of FDA approval” as their reason. 
Electronic cigarettes, or e-cigs for short, consist of a tube, a battery and some flavored liquid laced with nicotine.  It gives a smoker the satisfaction of nicotine intake without the smell or the actual smoke.  Those who inhale through it get a nicotine flavored water vapor which is supposed to be less harmful and certainly less odorous than regular cigarettes.  Some manufacturers say the e-cig’s intention is to help individuals quit smoking altogether, although the nicotine content would probably make that difficult.
What seems ridiculous about this entire move by the state of Illinois is…  everything.  Actual cigarettes have been scientifically proved to be harmful  and can cause heart disease and cancer.  Illinois doesn’t seem to be worried about the harm caused by cigarettes but rather the fact that to date no government agency has proved that e-cigs are not harmful.  It seems to me if the state was truly worried about its citizens’ health they’d work to stop the sale of cigarettes and all other tobacco products instead.  So why would e-cigs be the focus of their ban?
I can’t prove this but my guess is the manufacturers of e-cigs don’t contribute millions of dollars to political campaign funds as does big tobacco.  Banning tobacco sales in this country would cause politicians to lose huge campaign donations, therefore big tobacco is off limits.  Even the Presidential administration, which is currently working to control the foods we and our children eat with the stated intention of improving our health, hasn’t moved to ban the sale and use of tobacco.  Could that be because the President himself is (was?) a tobacco user and also received large donations from big tobacco during his 2008 campaign; and wants them again in 2012?  (Not that he is the only one, by any means.  He just happens to be in office right now.)
It’s often odd what causes politicians will take up and the reasons.  Banning electronic cigarettes, in this man’s opinion, is really an idiotic thing to do given the numerous other things that need attention in this country.  The politicians in Illinois have already said if the Food and Drug Administration approves e-cigs for consumer use they’ll reverse the ban.  It’s absolutely unbelievable to me that the people in Illinois are paying their legislators to work on a project that 1. Is a complete waste of time and tax money and 2. They’ll reverse if and when the FDA makes a decision.  Then again, it doesn’t surprise me one bit.

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