Yesterday, the National Park Service announced a ban on electronic cigarettes anywhere actual cigarettes are banned on federal park property, “despite unsettled science on possible health effects from secondhand vapor inhalation and what’s likely a minimal fire risk.”
The reason? To safeguard people’s health, according to National Park Service
Head Nanny Director Jonathan Jarvis.
“Protecting the health and safety of our visitors and employees is one of the most critical duties of the National Park Service,” Jarvis said. “We are therefore extending the restrictions currently in place protecting visitors and employees from exposure to tobacco smoke to include exposure to vapor from electronic smoking devices.”
Is protecting the health of Americans a duty of the National Park Service? Are trans-fats and salt also banned in National Parks? Sugar sodas? Red meat?
The memo with the new directive cites a “disputed study” that claims e-cigs emit formaldehyde “and a toxic chemical found in antifreeze.” It says that the decision was made “out of an abundance of caution in light of the scientific findings and uncertainty to date, and in the interest of equity.”
We don’t know if e-cigs are dangerous, but we are going to ban them just in case. This is the government’s attitude: our freedom is a bigger risk than “unsettled science.” There are no forest fires that have resulted from e-cigs but illegal immigrants camping in the Southern California wilderness have started at least one. We sure aren’t banning illegal immigrants.
Gregory Conley, president of the American Vaping Association trade group, says the new restrictions are a bad idea and should not be enforced.
“Outdoor smoking bans in parks can at least somewhat be justified by the risk of fires, but vapor products pose no more of a fire risk than a cellphone battery,” he says. “This behavior is shameful and any enforcement of the ban will constitute a great misuse of government resources. The National Park Service should leave ex-smokers alone and let them camp and hike in peace.”
You can read the complete memo from the National Park Service at U.S. News and World Reports