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A sad day for freedom of choice

Juliette Tworsey has written a thoughtful and detailed account of the New Orleans smoking ban hearings.

As I explained on Sunday, Juliette is a musician. She's also an ex-smoker and vaper.

Her report covers the two public meetings that have been held in New Orleans this month to discuss a New York style smoking ban.

There were three distinct factions. One, supporters of a ban. Two, opponents of a ban. Three, vapers who support a ban but want an exemption for e-cigarettes.

Juliette sat with the second group:

Our group was nothing like the more organized pro ban group that occupied the left side of the chamber. We had no professional lobbyists speaking on our behalf, no formal welcome committee, and no real organization. We each got up to tell our story (in one minute) on how and why we had come to oppose the ban.

The reasons given varied from being about the potential for lost job and tourist revenue, lost revenue for the state, lost freedom, lost private property rights, a loss of social cohesion and diversity, and the catastrophic loss of the laissez-faire attitude that New Orleans has come to be known and loved for.

There was no one on our side to contest the “settled science” on 2nd hand smoke or the “dangers” of aerosol/vapor, save for me of course. My years (about 7 now) of reading and conducting research on the science and politics of smoking (and now vaping) bans have afforded me the luxury of coming across some potent and valuable information that calls the “settled science” of previous decades into question.

This is what I attempted to base the first 30 seconds of my time speaking on, with the remainder of my time spent on questioning why they would want to ban vapor products that harbor the potential to save lives. I showed them my Ploom tobacco vaporizer and I told them that this how I had transitioned away from smoking entirely. I also told them on how I had used it in a crowded non-smoking bar on Frenchmen St. and how no one had even noticed that I was doing so until a couple of patrons saw me partaking in the hand to mouth motion, of which one made it a point to marvel at the brilliance of the technology.

The point that I was trying to make was that clearly my little vaper pipe is annoying to no one, not even in a non-smoking venue, so why ban it? I mentioned how vapor technology has the potential to save lives. I closed by saying that I oppose the ban in its entirety and that I supported the right of the property owner to choose between being a smoking or non-smoking establishment. I wanted to say more, but that was it: minute up.

Then came the e-vapers with their “I am not a smoker … anymore” t-shirts. As a vaper myself, I have to say that I was quite pleased to see them there … more for the side of freedom I thought … As a proponent of harm reduction, I have to admit that I felt a sense of pride for them. Then one by one, vaping proponents took to the podium and proceeded to side with the pro-ban side by expressing their distaste of smoking and all things tobacco (I tape tobacco. I also have a couple of mods, but whatever ...).

I was mortified. They had thrown smokers (many of whom are musicians and my friends) under the bus. How could they have become so judgmental I wondered? Truth be told, only a few vapers had the chance to speak at the first session. Good, I thought, for surely the remaining vapers in the room would speak out on behalf of freedom of choice in the next round.

The pro-ban side [then] began throwing in its two cents on how vapor should also be banned. The look on the faces of vaping advocates was pure astonishment, and rightfully so, for the same trusty strategy used against smokers was now being used on vapers. They/we were now getting thrown under the bus with the smokers.

Juliette's post continues with a report of the second hearing which took place last week:

Each side had roughly the same message as the week prior, save for some new and novel arguments relating to wild and far reaching claims about the dangers of 3rd hand smoke, and the possible use of cannabis in e-cigs. There was even reference made to the idea that e-cigarettes could be used for crack cocaine.

There was also a fear that vaping could serve to “re-normalize” smoking (courtesy of the ALA representative). Ban proponents therefore made a special effort to focus on the demonization of e-cigarettes and aerosol. “E-cigarette aerosol is filled with formaldehyde, diethylene glycol, and tobacco specific nitrosamines,” cried one ban proponent. Vaping enthusiasts were not thrilled, and neither was I. I could see them shaking their heads in utter disbelief at the exaggerations being put forth by various health proponents ...

They even brought in a pediatrician to speak on the danger that 3rd hand smoke poses to children when their parents come home with the smell of smoke on their clothes after being in a smoking allowed bar. No, I am NOT making that part up. He really said that. In addition, there was one woman who howled into the microphone that she felt sick because she could smell the smoke on the clothes of the woman sitting next to her. “I feel like someone has just shot novacane into my nose” she howled. No, I am not making that part up either.

She then adds:

For those who are not familiar with the tactics of anti-tobacco campaigners, much of what I have described thus far should come off as being quite shocking. I have to admit that many of the claims made by anti-tobacco and anti-nicotine campaigners still continue to shock the hell out of me to this day; however, what really stunned me the most was when one after another, vaping advocates proceeded to side with anti forces, often clapping their hands and nodding in agreement with many of the claims made by pro ban speakers.

WTF? How can they believe all of the lies about 2nd hand/3rd hand smoke and the “10 gazillion chemicals” in tobacco smoke and then in the same breath (pun intended) act surprised when the very same people exaggerate the risks from “passive vaping”? How could they be so blind I wondered? Even if we do manage to get vapor products exempted from this proposed ban, don’t they realize that the prohibitionists are masters of incremental subjugation with only an game in mind?

I realize that many vapers feel that they need to separate vaping from smoking. I get that. Vaping is NOT smoking. However, as a vaper myself I surmise that throwing smokers, service industry workers, and private business owners under the bus will only serve to leave us standing all alone when they come back for us next year; and they WILL be back for us next year. Count on it. They are already on our front porch. Furthermore, for those vapers who loathe all things tobacco, I have one question: Don’t you remember where you came from?

Now, I've been accused recently of having a "dig" at vapers. It's true I've had several pops at some advocates of e-cigarettes but I'm not anti-vaping. Far from it.

I fully support harm reduction policies (and products) as long as their adoption (or promotion) doesn't involve coercion and what's more coercive than prohibition?

But what matters more to me (and, I think, to Juliette) is freedom of choice.

The reason I joined Forest many moons ago wasn't to encourage or defend smoking (although smoking is defensible). It was to promote and defend freedom of choice, a concept that seems to elude many of those who are currently jumping on the e-cigarette bandwagon.

In their haste to join forces with leading members of the tobacco control movement, it's not just smokers who are being thrown under the bus. Freedom of choice is being sacrificed too.

The behaviour of some people who should know better is nauseating, frankly. Their opportunism and eagerness not to offend their new found friends in tobacco control makes me want to heave.

Thankfully we still have people like Juliette Tworsey, an ex-smoker and vaper who is willing to stand up, speak up and declare:

The cause of freedom is not contingent upon the wants of one faction over another; that is the game that the ANTZ use to take freedoms from ALL of us. In any war the first casualty is truth. First they come for me, then they come for you. No one wins in such an environment. This is not a zero sum game. Freedom and the overall message of harm reduction are synonymous with one another. Selling out for short term gain equates long term loss for everyone and on a multitude of levels. Unfortunately, there are some people out there that think that it’s their job to take away people’s freedom.

Smoker or vaper, I urge you to read the full post: Thoughts on the New Orleans smoking ban hearings.

Read it, and weep. Or stick your head in the sand and pretend it doesn't exist.

PS. Fascinated to learn that "passive vapour" is now being referred to as "passive aerosol". What will they think of next?

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Reader Comments (5)

there was one woman who howled into the microphone that she felt sick because she could smell the smoke on the clothes of the woman sitting next to her. “I feel like someone has just shot novacane into my nose” she howled...........Next the woman started speaking in tounges and shaking uncontrollably into a comatose state and mind as if voodoo had taken control of her body!

Tuesday, January 20, 2015 at 14:25 | Unregistered Commenterharleyrider1978

Simon first and foremost the term '' Harm Reduction'' should be totally abandoned. Its that term alone which causes isolation and division. We all know there isn't a single study proving harm from either Vaping,SHS or even direct smoking.

The claims are all based upon epidemiology relative risk factors not Absolute risk. The RRs are so low for SHS they are beyond belief. For smoking they jump way up but when absolute risk is applied even that jumps multitudes lower as well.

What we have here is total and complete Lies spread by prohibitionists that should be thrown under the bus themselves.

No doubt the NOLA ban will go thru only because of the political make-up of the council itself. Its a done deal like all of them prior to even announcing it to the public. This public debate was mere dressing to make it appear to be a democratic process but truly it was nothing less than the SALEM witch trials where activists behaved as trans induced victims of witchcraft to the judges before them as they made their accusations.

One minute isn't enuf time to even speak except to say Im against it. Id need a full 5 minutes to get the points across and then have all my back up documents printed and presented to each councilor and the press to examine.

Logic not emotionalism will win the day as truth will too.

Myself and many others were on NOLA times paper fighting this ban and we devastated the enemy so bad with facts. The Nola Moderator came in and basically wiped out every pro-smokers comments to the last letter over 300 of them wiped in a single stroke and not only did she state she was glad to do it,she told all the anti-smokers to basically contact her quickly if anyone tried to post again. Oh she made her own reasons and left it at that.

By wiping out comments from the smokers who knew there subject and the tactics of the enemy we massacred them,then some little dweeb under about 7 different names came in screaming tobacco lobbiests and just kept posting and reposting it about 100 times across the board. You guessed it those posts were left and mostly in tact.

It shows just how scared these people are and the extremes they will go to and silence the opposition.

For those who were there reading the comments as the battle raged for a day and nite it must have been a excitement.

It never takes long to clear the enemy from the field once facts are presented against irrational behaviors like anti-smoking activists.

Its the same way everywhere we show up and fight back.

They run for cover and then start name calling and demanding you be banned.

As Iro said we have won the internet war and the smokefree activists know this too. Their days are numbered and their bans.

States are defunding them and the new congress and senate is likely to cut their revenues even deeper from the Federal Level hopefully ending CDC's and the HHS's cocntrbutions to their activists in the field illegally lobbying for smoking bans and raised taxes.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015 at 14:51 | Unregistered Commenterharleyrider1978

Two things!

I had a wry smile that Juliett's friends ("many of whom are musicians and my friends") have now turned against her.

I've said before that the smoking ban has achieved two things.

1) It has created a group of people that can now be legally hated.

and two

2) It's driven a poisonous wedge between decent honourable people.

This was always going to happen...and it's worked beautifully!

Tuesday, January 20, 2015 at 21:41 | Unregistered CommenterDennis

The smoking ban in New Orleans is unnecessary on many fronts. First, there are ample non-smoking bars in the city. The major reason though is that there is no substantiated threat from second hand smoke. Despite that the ban initially sought to ban smoking indoors and out (it has since been modified to allow patio smoking).

As another commenter noted, the local newspaper censored almost all anti-ban comments from their discussion board. The Antismoking proponents of the ban slandered and smeared all comments opposed to the ban. Any comment that referenced a study that refuted the Tobacco control party line was attacked.

A common attack method was to claim that the "Big Tobacco Shills" were inserting themselves in a local debate. That is really irrelevant since the Antismoker Tobacco Control movement is a globally coordinated and orchestrated movement funded by Big Pharma and government grants. The ban proponents (paid lobbyists) move from town to town lobbying for bans. The bans are based on flawed data. The health impacts are exaggerated, the economic impacts are downplayed, public support for bans is exaggerated. Opponents to the ban are censored and not given an opportunity to present their case in hearings that are stacked with proponents.

The real facts about second hand smoke and risks related to smoking need to get out. The facts have been manipulated to show only an exaggerated view of relative risk.

The New Orleans ban should be rejected. If it is passed work should begin on its ultimate repeal.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015 at 22:52 | Unregistered CommenterVinny Gracchus

Simon fresh off the news press,sweet ehh!

Cop Hop: Williams Proposes Cutting NOPD from Smoking Ordinance

Councilmember LaToya Cantrell’s proposed ordinance on smoking has generated a lot of controversy. It’s not just tobacco types who are upset with the legislation. Even ardent opponents of smoke have criticized Ordinance 30,455 for placing enforcement on the the New Orleans {Police Department (NOPD) during a crime spree. Today (1.20), Councilmember Jason Williams introduced an amendment to address the issue.

Williams’ amendment eliminates the NOPD from the proposed enforcement role. In a release, Williams said, ““Crime in New Orleans is my number one concern. Citizens do not feel safe, and constituents continually tell me that reducing crime should be my top priority. I support the ban on smoking indoors. And applaud Councilmember Cantrell on her hard work to bring the Smokefree New Orleans ordinance to the City Council. However, I cannot support an ordinance which places any additional burdens on the NOPD. I will not support the ordinance unless it makes clear that the NOPD should not enforce the ban on smoking. Rates of crime are increasing while our police force is shrinking. Our citizens feel unsafe, and so I must do everything I can to promote their safety, and support our police force to reform and improve. The police must focus on violent crime—murders, rapes, and armed robberies. We should not delay officers for even a minute in order to address smoking in bars.”

The Councilmember went on to add that he also does not want to create the potential for more conflict between police and citizens. He explains, “I don’t want police to use the provisions of this ordinance to conduct pretextual stops, which are ultimately a form of harassment, too often inflicted on the minority populations of this city. Provisions of the ordinance could easily be abused by an officer looking to stop an innocent citizen.”

Tuesday, January 20, 2015 at 23:11 | Unregistered Commenterharleyrider1978

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