Up in...Vapor?

Friday, January 31, 2014


It’s been 50 years since the Surgeon General linked tobacco smoking with cancer and other diseases. Amid widespread bans on public smoking, jurisdictions such as New York City are expanding the bans to include fake smoke -- the battery-heated glycol vapor produced by e-cigarettes. Former New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn defended the city’s new restrictions, saying e-cigarettes “normalize” the appearance of lighting up. Bob speaks to Amy Fairchild, a professor of sociomedical sciences at Columbia University, to ask if you can really ban an image?


Amy L. Fairchild

Hosted by:

Bob Garfield

Comments [3]


Kathryn Houser: Propylene Glycol has actually been studied, approved, in use and regularly inhaled for quite a long time. It's the active ingredient that produces the fog in stage fog machines. This is why it's so readily dismissed when people who are unaware, and unwilling to look up information on a subject before forming an opinion on it, make such comments.

Feb. 03 2014 03:54 PM
Christine Lebeau from New York City

I see this issue in a different way then I have heard discussed anywhere. I am not a smoker but I have close family members that are and it breaks my heart to see their heath deteriorate because of their addiction to smoking cigarettes. I welcome eCigarettes and the prospect that vaping will help my love ones quit, will be better for their longterm health or at the very least make them less smelly to be around. However, I am in full support of the NYC ordinance to ban eCigarettes from the same places that cigarettes are currently banned. There are plenty of laws that do little more than shape public behavior. Public indecency laws are a perfect example. What harm does public nudity really do to anyone? Except for a small group of nudists, you rarely hear people screaming "nanny state" over a right to public nudity. Would those same people who wish to vape right next to me at the office or in a restaurant or on the subway be okay if I took off my shirt and bra in those same places so I could be more comfortable? It is lawful for women to be topless in New York City so it is technically my right. How about the same for a future legal prescription of medical pot brownies? Are you okay with me eating at a baseball game sitting next to your kid? We have unwritten rules and laws for how we conduct ourselves in public spaces because we all have to somehow navigate these areas without killing one another over minor irritations. You can't take an open beer with you everywhere and public intoxication is discouraged. You can't go barefoot everywhere. My point is that there are social norms and just like language, they are always in flux. It used to be a social norm that you could smoke a cigarette anywhere that you wanted to, hospitals, planes, schools, etc. Most people would agree that seems crazy now. The battle over the right to vape in restaurants, subways, offices is a battle over what we want our cultural norms to be. Frankly, I don't want to sit next to a person in a restaurant who is vaping but I couldn't care less if that person was vaping in the apartment downstairs from me. I think the action of using nicotine in all of its forms should continue to carry some stigma and some public limitations because overall I think it is important to discourage people from picking up the bad habit in the first place, especially children.

Feb. 02 2014 02:35 PM
Kathryn Houser from Michigan

I wish you had at registered at least a little skepticism about the safety of the new e-cigarettes for bystanders. I am skeptical because I have worked with some "vapers" (vappers?), and in closed office spaces we can definitely smell/feel the fumes generated by these devices. They haven't been out in general use very long, and I fear that in a few years someone will discover it's bad for you to be breathing the glycol. For now, I think that restrictions that apply to cigarettes should apply to e-cigarettes just to avoid more local air pollution.

Feb. 01 2014 07:43 AM

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