Despite all the letters, phone calls, and emails sent from those whose health has improved thanks to vaping instead of smoking, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott sided with big tobacco and other legislators who stand on the myths of nicotine instead of the truth about vaping. All the legislators involved in the drafting and debating of Senate Bill 97 and House Bill 170 were provided mountains of scientific proof people are getting healthier thanks to putting down cigarettes and picking up vaping. In the end none of the facts stopped the relentless efforts to over regulate the products and the businesses serving the vaping community.
It is very reminiscent of the over reaction of Galileo’s facts presented against the myth of the earth being flat. For Galileo it meant the rest of his days spent under house arrest, branded as a heretic. For today’s vaping community it now means being treated as if they were still smokers, being sent to smoking areas they’ve tried for years to break free from. It means people who may have considered vaping instead of smoking as a way to break free will wonder if there really is a difference and continue to smoke. It means businesses focused on serving those Texans focused on ridding themselves of the nasty smells and health challenges of smoking will find they are banned from vaping despite facts the vapor registers the same level of toxicity as ambient air. It means big tobacco has successfully used the Texas political machine to slow down a competitor and move their version of nicotine delivery ahead of vaping. It means we lose, as citizens, and big corporations, lobbyists, and politicians win once again.
Voices were raised across the state but all their efforts, time, money, and attempts to get the facts heard and respected fell on deaf ears. On May 28th Texas became another state over regulating what will prove to be one of the best things to happen to improve public health in a long time. Now there will be 18 months of more growing scientific proof vaping is better than smoking and safe to those around us. Now there will more former smokers that will have a story to tell. Now, however, it will take over turning draconian laws and classifications if vaping is to be given a chance to counter big tobacco’s money and influence in Texas. Will the 85th Legislative Session be more inclined to embrace facts and public health rather than myth and crony capitalism? Time will tell but for now overregulation begins in earnest Oct. 1st. The vaping community, the people who work and live within it, will be over regulated and harmed while big tobacco and their deadly cigarettes will win to the cheers of anti-smoking groups and politicians who embrace the myth the earth is flat.