Friday, October 18, 2013

Smoking ordinance amended to include e-cigarettes

1. Smoking ordinance amended to include e-cigarettes. (2013 October 16) The University Star.

2. Category of problem: Smoking

3. Level of problem: Local level

4. The article concerns: An amendment to the New Air Ordinance, a recent bill passed in San Marcos to prohibit smoking inside and within a certain distance from bars and restaurants, stating that smoking e-cigarettes is also prohibited in any area in which smoking is prohibited.

5. Why this is important: Any individual smoking an e-cigarette in or within a certain distance from a bar and restaurant will now be vulnerable to any punishment or legal action as described in the Clear Air Ordinance. This also affects "vape" shops, which sale vaporizers, e-cigarettes, and other related paraphernalia. Tobacco shops hold one of the few exemptions to the law, but "vape" shops carry no similar exemption with regard to e-cigarettes.

6. My views on this issue/policy: I don't agree with the policy because I think it lacks significant cause and creates an uncomfortable precedence in the conduct of local legislation.

Cigarettes are banned in public buildings on the premise that they contribute to pollution, harm the health of bystanders, and make people uncomfortable. Though debatable, I feel this premise is just cause for a smoking ban. However, unlike cigarettes, e-cigarettes emit water vapor which neither contributes to air pollution, nor harms the health of bystanders in any known way. Thus, the cause for banning e-cigarettes remains to be that is makes people uncomfortable. Though that may be true, I do not feel this is just cause for a ban on e-cigarettes, nor, standing alone, would it be just cause for a ban on anything.

Under such precedence of law making we could easily ban cross-dressing, breastfeeding, or any other such action which could cause someone to be uncomfortable. Therefore, I feel that legislation on the premise of bystander discomfort is a dangerous precedence to create.

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