Attorneys General Declare War On E-Cigarettes In The Name Of Tax Dollars


E-cigarettes aren’t healthy, but they’re one heck of a lot healthier than cigarettes. And, because they emit water vapor not smoke, in a lot of places (not, unfortunately, North Dakota) they can be used inside allowing people to enjoy doses of nicotine as though they were smoking a cigarette without having to be exiled outdoors.

You would think public health advocates would be welcoming this new innovation which allows smokers to feed their habit in a more health, less socially obtrusive way.

Not so much, it turns out. Attorneys Generals in dozens of states have declared war on e-cigarrettes. “Attorney generals from 40 states are begging the FDA to intervene and stop the e-cig industry,” reports the Daily Caller. “Some states have already passed legislation to regulate them like regular cigarettes.”

You can read the letter here. North Dakota’s AG Wayne Stenehjem is not a signatory, though that’s probably because North Dakota has already decided to treat e-cigarettes like tobacco products, at least in terms of the statewide smoking ban.

What’s troubling is that this is being done without any real factual basis. E-cigarettes, despite the name, aren’t really cigarettes. They’re a nicotine delivery system, sure, but there’s no tobacco. So what basis is there for regulating a specifically non-tobacco product the same as a tobacco product?

Tax revenues might be one issue. The e-cigarette industry is growing – they are projected to top $10 billion in sales by 2017 – and a lot of the new users are no doubt defectors from tobacco products.

Part of the government’s efforts to ground out tobacco use has been to tax the bejesus out of them. Smokers quitting tobacco and taking up vaping means a big drain on tax dollars.

Which is ironic, isn’t it? That public officials, acting ostensibly in the name of public health, would seek to marginalize a healthier (if not specifically healthy) alternative to tobacco use in the name of keeping tobacco tax revenues flowing?

Such is the cynical reality of nanny state politics, I’m afraid.