The Los Angeles City Council last Wednesday voted to treat the newly trendy electronic cigarettes the same way tobacco cigarettes are treated: no smoking allowed inside restaurants, bars, or workplaces. Their justification is that vaping, the term for using an e-cigarette, has not been studied well enough to understand the long term effects of the second hand water vapor that emanates from these devices on the health of innocent bystanders. Plus they fear that the nicotine in e-cigs might lead the user into using the real tobacco product so they must protect the public for its own good.
Frankly I don't advocate anybody putting any flaming substance to their lips and inhaling. But I can't applaud the City Council's actions when I consider their perverse embrace of marijuana dispensaries dotting the landscape all around LA. While e-cigs are legal devices, medical marijuana, with a couple of exemptions, are illegal in most states and throughout the country under federal law. Yet members of the Council have made impassioned pleas for marijuana shops to be allowed to operate without excessive regulation.
This embrace of the still unauthorized marijuana reaches all the way up to the top of this left wing presidential administration. The country's number one law enforcer, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, is even giving advice to banks on how to work with marijuana dispensaries in the hope that these businesses, wink wink, can become more successful.
All this love for marijuana seems misplaced. While tobacco smoking has been linked to lung cancer, smoking marijuana can lead to respiratory illnesses too. Tokers are placing burning plant leaves into their lips and mouths, inhaling the smoke just like cigarettes. Consequently particulate substances reach down into the lungs the same way tobacco particles do. Don't tell me marijuana leaf particles are somehow more benign than tobacco. The City Council's concerns regarding the potential addictive qualities of the nicotine in e-cigs also doesn't jibe when they dismiss the addictive nature of marijuana. The reason pot users need to toke every day is because of their addiction, not because of their glaucomas.
I can understand why the city government is advocating for a banned substance while shutting down the use of a legal one. Most of these members probably have used pot in the past. They're mostly of the baby boomer generation who flauted laws as a matter of pride. Drug culture became their culture. That's why before every concert and ball game there is a public service announcement saying no smoking is allowed but everybody starts lighting up their pot as soon as the event begins. Yet there isn't a bouncer in sight who will throw out a pot user but if somebody lights up a tobacco cigarette there would be mass hysteria to get the user kick out. And no, not all of us enjoy the second hand smoke from marijuana.
So while it's good and well that the LA City Council members are looking after the welfare of e-cigarette users by attempting to keep them off the nicotine dispensing devices, their words would carry more weight and appear less hypocritical if they also embraced the fact the marijuana can be equally harmful. Plus what part of ILLEGAL don't they understand?