Monday, January 26, 2015

Kleefisch opposes e-cig ban, but is he right to do so?

Question of "owners' rights" doesn't trump right to be healthy in public setting

Joel Kleefisch is opposed to expanding the smoking ban in Wisconsin to include e-cigarettes.

E-cigarette smoking, or vaping, is causing quite a stir nationwide. Proponents of vaping consider it harmless, and view it as a means towards eventually kicking the habit overall, although scientific studies have yet to definitively prove such a claim.

Kleefisch, a Republican Assemblyman and husband to Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch, is proposing a bill protecting the rights of business owners to allow e-cigarettes in their establishments.

"This new nanny state needs to stop interfering," said Kleefisch.

He added: "Let the customers decide with their pocketbooks" on whether specific businesses should allow or disallow vaping.

Such line of thinking is dismissive of the greater overall point: if cigarette smoke is bad, then patrons who don't want to inhale it have little choice but to do so. The same should be true of e-cigarettes: if they're bad, then those who are forced to be around it shouldn't have to be, when in a public space.

The smoking ban on regular cigarettes has worked remarkably. Personally, I remember walking into bars, never smoking a single cigarette, and walking out hours later smelling like I covered myself in ashtray refuse. Smelling that smoke on my body, it was clear that a significant portion had seeped into my lungs as well. That's no longer the case today.

Cigarette smell may not be part of the e-cigarette experience, but the harmful chemicals in e-cigarettes aren't gone just because they're in vapor form. Indeed, some studies suggest that up to four times as much metallic by-product can be produced from vaping versus smoking, and that a resistance to antibiotics can result from e-cigarette inhalation as well.

With the effects of second-hand e-cigarette smoking clearly identified, it's only logical that the practice should be enforced the same way that we've addressed conventional smoking.

The ban on indoor smoking has been wildly successful and popular. Extending it to e-cigarettes -- banning the use indoors in public establishments, but not outright banning for personal use -- makes natural sense.


  1. There is no serious person would suggest that secondhand vapor should be banned because it poses a risk to bystanders. No one, when asked to demonstrate such scientifically could do so. Even advocates of smoking bans (such as the Health Commissioner in New York City when they considered a ban) could suggest that it posed a health risk (which was the basis by which they passed smoking bans). No, when directly asked, any credible advocate would acknowledge that they support a ban because they don't like the way people look who use these products. They fear "normalizing" smoking (by choosing so obviously NOT smoke - absurd) or they fear that establishments are run by blindfolded, mentally-deficient monkeys (I guess that's the new legal standard) who can't tell the difference between stinky smoking (which has passive smoke - ecigs don't have and lingers in the air much longer and doesn't come from cigarettes) and vapor. Vapers aren't always polite as they should be. Businesses are ALWAYS free to ban vaping. But to pass a law to restrict those who are choosing not to smoke (most of whom have been smokers) and treat them like smokers (what would you do, send them out to hang with the smokers??) only serves to encourage them to continue smoking ... and will keep them dying.

    1. I appreciate you taking the time to read the blog, and also to leave a comment on my site. I truly do.

      I disagree with your comment on several fronts. To say that secondhand vaping doesn't pose a threat to bystanders is wrong. Vapers from e-cigarettes contain four times the levels of nickel that conventional cigarettes carry. According to the CDC, one in every ten persons are sensitive to nickel, so around ten percent of patrons could feel severe effects from an e-cigarette. Additionally, prolonged exposure to nickel can lead to cancer. E-cigarettes also contain chromium, an element not even found in regular smoking, which is yet another carcinogen.

      If you ask me which is safer, cigarette smoking or e-cigarette vaping, I will of course tell you that e-cigs are safer by far. That doesn't mean that they're safe -- just safer. Driving without a seatbelt on is safer than driving with a blindfold. That doesn't mean we should advocate driving without a seatbelt.

      On the issue of business rights, I offer an analogy. We would scoff at the idea of an owner spraying small amounts of nickel and chromium (and those are just the two I've mentioned) into the air of a public restaurant or bar. That's poisoning his own patrons, wouldn't you agree? So if we are against that, why are we for allowing that same owner that same right, only using some of his patrons to poison the others? It doesn't make sense.

      Finally, I don't oppose e-cigarettes because of the way they look. That's absurd. Rather, exposure to chemicals that aren't noticeable is what bothers me. I came to this conclusion years ago with regular smoking bans, which I initially opposed. But after careful thought and pondering the evidence some more, I came to realize that we an owners' rights doesn't trump the rights of his patrons. Even if they willingly go into the establishment, they don't forfeit the right to a clean atmosphere. Dishes have to be washed, employees have to clean their hands...and yes, cigarettes need to be banned in public, indoor places.

  2. The study finding nickel in the vapor found levels so low that even those sensitive to nickel wouldn't be affected. There's less nickel detected in the vapor than even in food cooked in a stainless steel pot. They'd be exposed to more nickel by walking through the parking lot and inhaling the car emissions.

    Not one study has claimed that the levels of any chemicals "detected" in e-cigarette vapor are at levels that would present any harm to bystanders. More importantly, the levels detected have always been in INHALED vapor, not exhaled vapor that has been diluted by both the consumer's lungs and the ambient air before it reaches a bystander.

    Until there is any actual evidence that bystanders are at risk from exhaled vapor, property owners should be able to make their own policies. Passing laws that are mostly intended for restaurants and movie theaters - but also catch weld shops, factories and other establishments that don't pose a risk to bystanders - is unnecessary and bad for public health. What if an employer wants to encourage use in the weld shop, where more than 50% of his employees smoke, to reduce smoking and increase productivity? A law would prevent him from doing that.

    We have 30+ years of research showing what chemicals in cigarettes pose a health risk. That knowledge is used to evaluate the chemicals in vapor compared to smoking. Second-hand smoke in public spaces is already a very low health risk and vapor is orders of magnitudes less risk than second-hand smoke. The idea that anyone is at risk from such tiny exposures - especially compared to average city air - is laughable. We know what e-cigartettes contain and it's NOT the 7,000 chemicals and 60+ carcinogens that cause health risks in smoke. Bystanders should be more concerned about the toxins created by that wood-burning pizza oven or grease-covered grill than a little bit in vapor. Even without vapor, restaurants do not offer a "clean atmosphere." It's very disceptive to claim that they do.

    On the other hand, smokers and their families are exposed to high levels of toxins and carcinogens in smoke. And children of smokers are 3 times as likely to become smokers if their parents don't quit. Taking away ANY incentive for smokers to quit smoking and risking that even one smoker keeps smoking will negate any of the little "good" done by "protecting" bystanders from non-toxic levels of just one or two metals in the vapor. It's throwing the baby out with the bathwater by focusing on the small risks to bystanders instead of big risks to smokers and their families.

    Most vapor users don't use their products in places where it would bother other people anyhow. As a consumer myself, I don't use them in restaurants, movie theaters, government buildings, schools or stores. I do, however, use it in a bar after asking permission (where 1/2 the patrons are outside smoking anyhow) and my husband can use his in the weld shop (where there are far more toxic emissions to worry about.)

    Allowing vapor indoors (only where the owner wishes to allow it) is an incentive to get smokers to switch. By switching, they significantly reduce their health risks, to themselves and their families. Real health risk - not theoretical ones with no scientific support. There's 45 million smokers plus their families in real danger and we can help them. The trade off is occasional exposure to vapor that seems to have tiny health risks, if any.

    I don't oppose vapor bans because I want to vape in Applebee's. I oppose them because they will keep too many smokers smoking, first by removing an incentive to switch and second by sending the very dangerous message that smokers should just keep smoking, because e-cigarettes are no safer.


  4. Are you kidding me? It's called the "FREE MARKET." The owner of an establishment should set the policy in that establishment. Not the government or some mamby pamby public health official. There is no RIGHT to If you don't like the conditions in an particular establishment, that just shut up and go some where else! There is no right to be "healty in a public setting" that someone else owns. Just go some where else!

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  6. If you or anyone else chooses to smoke/inhale known harmful substances. This is your choice as long as it does not harm anyone else. Many e-cigarettes look like regular cigarettes.
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