Vaping in the Oregonian

In today’s Oregonian, I look back at a column I wrote in 2008 and say, “I told you so.”

When the clock struck midnight on New Year’s Day 2009, Oregon ushered in its statewide smoking ban in bars and restaurants. I was at the Horse Brass Pub, one of Portland’s most notoriously smoky drinking dens, enjoying one last cigar with a bunch of other patrons who were none too happy about the new rules.

The ban, we were told, was necessary to protect employees and customers alike from secondhand smoke. Health researchers had conducted dozens of studies attempting to show that exposure endangered nonsmokers. Some of the results were medically implausible, but ban advocates at least made the effort of demonstrating actual harm to actual humans.

Many of us doubted that the evidence really mattered. As I wrote in The Oregonian/OregonLive at the time, “Protecting workers is simply the polite fiction by which nonsmokers have imposed their will on an increasingly unpopular minority.”

We suspected this, but how could we prove it? What if there were a device that looked like a cigarette and mimicked the effects of smoking, yet emitted a mostly harmless vapor instead of tobacco smoke? If authorities tried to ban that too, without bothering to establish that it endangered anyone, then our suspicions would be vindicated.

That device exists. It’s called an e-cigarette. And sure enough, the Multnomah Board of County Commissioners is voting on whether to ban its use indoors. The Legislature, too, may expand the state’s smoking ban to cover vaping.

Read the whole thing.


2 thoughts on “Vaping in the Oregonian”

  1. As a “reformed” smoker I sometimes find cigarette smoke somewhat distasteful. But I’ve used e-cigs and been around others using them and I don’t have an issue with it.

    Locally, I see politicians seeking to have the smoking and e-cig use age raised to 21. Smart enough to vote, but not smart enough to make personal choices? Puritans in politics, should we laugh or cry?

  2. I don’t allow vaping in my restaurant mostly because many of them emit smells that other diners don’t like. However, it hasn’t been established that e-cigs are harmless. The business isn’t well regulated yet and there isn’t much transparency about what exactly is in them.

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