More nannystate government in San Diego: Is Michael Bloomberg’s Big Gulp ban next?

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Guest Commentary
by Rafid Moga 

Michael Bloomberg’s “big gulp ban” was widely ridiculed for being what it was: local government choosing to micromanage the most personal choices of New York City residents.

Well, it looks like the uncontrollable urge of local politicians to micromanage what we eat, drink and consume is making its way back to San Diego.  This time the target is “e-cigarettes” the tobacco-less cigarettes that local government is deciding to treat as…tobacco.

The scientific jury is still out on the long term health effects of e-cigarettes.  But we do know that they contain no tobacco, and none of the hundreds of potentially harmful chemicals in tobacco that cause an array of health problems over time.

Now, the same city government that should be focusing on problems in its police department, joblessness, homelessness and other pressing issues is taking time to move San Diego one step closer to Michael Bloomberg’s vision of local government that controls just about every choice we make about what we consume.

Specifically, on Monday the City Council will consider extending existing rules on tobacco advertising to e-cigarettes, even though, again, e-cigarettes by definition contain no tobacco at all.  This includes: no displays near certain items in stores located in certain places, or below four feet from the floor, or in the window, etc.  You get the idea.

Once the precedent is set that such restrictions are no longer limited to just tobacco products, it’s just a matter of time before we see some future council come back to “strengthen” the rules by extending them to…energy drinks, sodas, candy, foods with transfats, etc.  At some point we must draw the line somewhere and say: enough, this is not the appropriate role of government.

Local retailers are integral parts of our neighborhoods and owners have a strong incentive to be good stewards of the community.  The proposed restrictions imply local shopkeepers cannot be trusted to find the right balance in how merchandise is configured and marketed in our stores.  The heavy hand of government must instead intervene.

Our local businesses cannot just pick up and move elsewhere like so many other employers in California have done.  The steady layering of more and more restrictions and micromanagement of our shops and businesses erode our ability to stay in business at all.

The issue coming before the city council has nothing to do with tobacco products.  It relates to whether government will take on the power to decide just how any food, drink, or smoke it, at the moment, deems undesirable can be further regulated and then enforced by the city with its police powers.

Tobacco products have been proven harmful, making existing regulations acceptable.  Extending those regulations to products that have not been proven harmful at all crosses the line, and should be rejected.

Rafid Moga is owner of a tobacco retail shop in San Diego.

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Comments 6

  1. “The scientific jury is still out on the long term health effects of e-cigarettes.”

    I’d like to debate Mr. Moga on that point, but I have no vocal chords. Just a hole in my throat where they used to be.

    The scientific jury was still out when I started smoking cigarettes, according to the tobacco companies… Then my nicotine addiction overpowered my common sense.

  2. You’re right, Rafid. Smart cigarettes shouldn’t be regulated like tobacco products.

  3. It sounds like some of the proposed regulations are designed to prevent sales to minors. That seems reasonable. The restrictions on using smart cigarettes in public seems unreasonable since it’s not really a health ordnance. For what it’s worth, my guess is both measures will pass anyway because … the children. But if you testify at the hearing and want to stick it to the council, start calling the e-cigs, smart cigarettes. Feel free to market them as such. My gift to you. 🙂

    http://www.kpbs.org/news/2014/jul/25/san-diego-considering-restrictions-e-cigarettes/

  4. What a shame the City of San Diego’s CITY COUNCIL will not consider banning woefully incompetents from serving on the City Council. My God how do we elect these folks? I mean they are straight from the Bar Scene in STAR WARS! Have you ever heard them actually debate an issue?? It is hilarious between the known Union Puppets to hear them try to present an argument!

  5. Please explain under what authority a city council could ban those the majority deem incompetent?

  6. Science! “We need to think carefully about how these products are regulated,” … said [senior author Dr. Hayden McRobbie, from the Wolfson Institute of Preventive Medicine at Queen Mary University of London]. “What we found is that there is no evidence that these products should be regulated as strictly as tobacco, or even more strictly than tobacco.”

    No evidence has shown that the vapor produced by e-cigarettes is harmful to users or bystanders in contrast to cigarette smoke, he added. It’s not the nicotine in cigarettes that kills people, he said. (Nicotine is the addictive agent in cigarettes).

    “Use of e-cigarettes by people who don’t smoke is very rare,” McRobbie said. Furthermore, there is no evidence to support arguments that e-cigarettes are a gateway to smoking tobacco, he added.

    “There is evidence that e-cigarettes enable some users to quit smoking or reduce their consumption,” McRobbie said. “If there is evidence that e-cigarettes reduce smoking-related harm, then they need to be easily obtainable and not regulated more strongly than tobacco products.”
    http://www.webmd.com/smoking-cessation/news/20140730/benefits-of-e-cigarettes-may-outweigh-harms-study-finds

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