Do The E-cig Bans Have An Achilles Heel?

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2014-04-06 13:03:01

Particularly in the US, there has been a wave of e-cig bans that have been imposed by many states. They have outlawed vaping in all places where cigarette smoking is not allowed and this wave has left e-cig enthusiasts reeling.

However, electronic cigarette proponents have started to rally and they have started to file cases in courts of law to challenge the bans. The case filed against the New York law is particularly noteworthy. The case is built around what is called “the single-subject rule”.

Ban on e-cigarettesWhat Is This Rule?

It was realized in several states and cities that not many people had legal training. In order to keep laws simple and also keep politics within the reach of the ordinary person, it was written into the constitutions of these cities and states that a law should only apply to one thing.

That one thing that a law was about had to also be in the title of that law so that it was easy to tell what issue was being legislated about. The other reason for stating that single subject in the title was to forestall the smuggling of amendments to do with totally unrelated issues being added to an existing law.

Thus, it has been the norm that each law has to apply to a single issue and to entrench this principle many states wrote it in their constitutions so that lawmakers are kept aware that each bill they come up with must adhere to “the single-subject rule”.

Does It Give E-Cigs A Lifeline?

The single-subject rule is what petitioners against the New York ban are looking at as one of the grounds to seek that law to be overruled by court.

The reality is that most bans on e-cig use have come in the form of amendments to smoke-free laws that have been around in those jurisdictions.

The reasoning behind those laws was that the members of the public needed to be cushioned against the risks they faced from second-hand smoke while they were in the vicinity of smokers of tobacco cigarettes.

Legislators try to sidestep the prevention of second-hand smoke in the amendments they make and that is where the departure from the single-subject rule comes in. Their concern is to prevent kids getting exposed to e-cigs and they want to use smoke-free laws to do that. Can that argument hold up to legal scrutiny?

Electronic cigarette campaigners are arguing that it is not right to ban vaping as though it were an act of smoking. If regulators want to rule on e-cigs, they should design independent legislation to specifically address electronic cigarettes.

The events that unfold as the New York law is challenged will be closely watched across the country and the world. Some prudent states may wait to see how that matter is concluded before they too pass their own laws otherwise they risk being dragged to court for the very same issue. All this legal manoeuvring could have been avoided if ample information was gathered before the laws were passed. As it is, resources are going to be wasted to correct wrongs that should have been addressed.

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