Florida voters passed Amendment 9 last night, which bans offshore drilling along with vaping
Last night marked a contentious and prevalent midterm election in America. While voters across the country were voting for members of Congress, Senators, and Governors, many places also held votes on proposed laws. In several areas around the nation, voters decided the fate of vaping in one way or another, including bans and age restrictions. Many of these measures were for smaller municipalities, but one crucial statewide battle grabbed the attention of the entire vaping community.
Many vapers have probably heard about the odd circumstances of Florida’s Amendment 9. Florida voters were forced to decide on a combined bill that would either ban both vaping and offshore drilling or let both continue unfettered. Despite pleas from advocates on both sides, the legislator stood by their choice and let the voters decide for both or neither on election day. Unfortunately for the vapers of Florida, Amendment 9 passed yesterday meaning that soon it may be much harder to be a vaper in the Sunshine State.
The Questionable Vote
It’s a somewhat complicated story to explain how we even got here, but let’s briefly go over the major points. It all started earlier this year with the Florida Constitution Revision Commission, who meet once every 20 years to discuss any possible changes to the state’s constitution. The head of this commission, Lisa Carlton, went on the record several times to say that she worries about vaping being just as, if not more dangerous than smoking. As such, she bullied through a vote on adding vaping to the 2002 amendment, which banned public smoking in most places. After the group of commissioners voted on and passed the measure, it meant the general public would get the final say on election day.
But making matters much more complicated, and potentially unreasonable, was the fact that this measure was tied at the hip with another potential ban on offshore drilling. So without any more reason than an arbitrary combination of the topics under the slogan “clean air, clean water,” the commission set up a very annoying choice for vapers in Florida. If they wanted to preserve their vaping rights they had to sacrifice their beautiful scenery. Ultimately, over 60% of Floridians voted to ban both public vaping and offshore drilling, leaving an uncertain future for the industry in the state.
The Evidence On Vaping
Making this vote even worse is the long list of evidence we have that points to the extreme harm reduction and smoking cessation value of vaping. Instead of taking a hard look at the evidence, the legislators in Florida gave in to the sensationalized coverage based on nothing. We’ve known since at least 2015 that vaping is around 95% safer than continued smoking, but we’ve since expanded our understanding to indicate that the lifetime excess cancer risk of a smoker is around 57,000 times higher than a comparable vaper.
We also have strong evidence showing that vaping is more than just a useful smoking cessation tool, it may actually be the best smoking cessation tool we have, period. Research published out of the University of Louisville tested all the most common smoking cessation tools and concluded that vaping is more likely to lead to a successful attempt than even prescription drugs. But likely the best example of how Amendment 9 doesn’t utilize the evidence is the research which clearly shows second-hand vaping is nowhere near as impactful to bystanders as second-hand smoke is. That means that not only is vaping 95% safer, but being around vapor isn’t harming bystanders at nearly the same rate being around smoke does.
In case there was any confusion about it, the war on vaping is still going strong. Votes like these show we have a long way to go to get where we want to be. Despite the growing pile of evidence showing the many benefits of vaping, the vast majority of people are still woefully unaware. In fact, polls have shown that only around 13% of adults understand that vaping is a lot safer than smoking, while twice as many think they’re just as bad if not worse. If we genuinely value putting an end to the smoking epidemic, we must first take advantage of all the best tools we have at our disposal, including vaping. While it’s a sad day for vapers in Florida, the battle isn’t over yet. With enough support and evidence we can still turn things around and get vaping the respect it deserves as a game-changing harm reduction and smoking cessation tool.
Are you surprised Florida voted in favor of the joint ban? Do you think it was fair for voters to have to choose both or neither? How can we improve the public perception of vaping? Let us know what you think in the comments, and don’t forget to check back here or join our Facebook and Twitter communities for more news and articles.