State Rep. Gail Haines, R – Waterford, is one of just two Republicans and 14 total lawmakers in the 148-member Michigan Legislature to vote against a proposed law that would prohibit the sale of e-cigarettes to minors. She is also the chair of the Health Policy Committee in the Michigan House of Representatives, a position she really should not retain following a recent column she placed in the Detroit News urging Gov. Snyder to veto the legislation.
The governor is considering doing just that, on the advice of his Department of Community Health bureaucrats who want not just a ban on sales to minors but broad regulatory power to treat e-cigarettes like tobacco (and possibly even tax them as such.) Health cops are the same the world over: If they’re given a chance to stand in the way of a habit or diet that isn’t Nurse Ratched approved, they will. Regulators regulate: Asking otherwise is like demanding dogs not chase cats.
The Legislature is supposed to do its own homework and reign in the regulators when their bossy manner threatens to harm the freedom and welfare of citizens. The 96-14 vote in the House in favor of banning e-cig sales to minors, and the 38-0 vote in the Senate, shows most Michigan lawmakers took that seriously. Children are protected, while adults are treated like adults.
Yet in her Detroit News missive, Rep. Haines asks: “Do we want to wait for [the] feds to decide their direction while Michigan youth are becoming addicted to nicotine by use of e-cigarettes with flavors such as gummy bears, cheesecake, and cotton candy?”
She had her chance to protect the children from nicotine. One might think she is chastising the tiny minority who – like her – voted against banning the sale of these products to minors.
“The truth is that e-cigarettes contain nicotine,” she continues. “We have seen the hazards and paid for the health hazards of nicotine addiction for years.”
Well, no, that would be tobacco’s death toll, not nicotine’s. Inhaling tons of smoke from burning sticks full of harsh chemicals and dried leaves has been proven to be a highly efficient method of creating many murderous cancers. But while very addictive, not healthy, and not something we should be letting children purchase, nicotine use by itself is but a tiny fraction of tobacco’s threat. Confusing these problems is like comparing shoplifting a t-shirt with aggravated murder.
Reporting recently on the toxicology of e-cigarettes, the British National Health Service stated the vapors contain 1/1000th the hazardous chemicals of real cigarettes. Those anti-smoking billboards on roadsides showing people with chunks of their face and lungs missing are showing the ravages of tobacco smoke, not nicotine use.
To conflate the two, as Rep. Haines does repeatedly in her column, is – at best – blindingly stupid regarding the facts she is supposed to know as a lawmaker in charge of a committee on public health. At worst, it is profoundly immoral propaganda that confuses and distracts people with a lethal addiction regarding a life-saving alternative.
We now have the ability to separate smoking death from nicotine addiction. That should be a goal of health policy, not an obstacle.
Half a dozen smokers have contacted me since I began writing about this issue, each speaking of a much healthier lifestyle with clean lungs from switching to e-cigarettes. Their clothing smells normal and they no longer assault bystanders with tobacco smoke.
They have their life back because they know the difference between tobacco and nicotine. It’s a shame lying politicians seek to confuse other tragic people who seek such peace.