(Note: This article originally appeared at Ricochet.com).
In the bad old days, Big Tobacco would have used all the means at its disposal to thwart a new technology that threatened to disrupt the market for inhalable nicotine. But instead of using its relationship with (and leverage over) regulators to throw obstacles into the path of its early-worm competitors, Big Tobacco has read the writing on the wall and begun to supply the demand for e-cigarettes and vaporizers.
One should expect a politically-connected colossus like R.J. Reynolds to arrive late to the e-cigarette game. But R.J. is downright nimble compared to a Ticonderoga-class bureaucracy like the California Department Of Public Health, which recently kicked-off a campaign to confuse low-information consumers (principally Millenials, liberals, and the poor). A website promoted by the state is called, tellingly, StillBlowingSmoke.org.
The first thing that strikes visitors to the site are the sepia-toned photographs of young people’s heads enveloped in clouds of vapor so beautiful as to tempt non-smokers to take up vaping as a hobby. With the light touch one associates with public health campaigns, the site explains the tradeoffs between smoking and vaping with the sober evenhandedness of the movie Reefer Madness. One link contains the headline “Particles And Your Body: A Hate Story” (for those not familiar with government lingo, hate is never justified). Beneath that, we read:
See why those fine and ultrafine particles in e-cig aerosol are just tiny balls of evil to your measly human form.
I guess you could say the e-cig industry comprises an evil empire.
One-third of the site, with a predictability that surpasses mere tedium, criticizes Big Tobacco’s for its desire to make inroads into the growing e-cigarette market rather than doing what the government expects: kowtow to regulators and fund its crummy schools. Much is made of Big Tobacco’s “unclear motives.” Speaking of unclear motives, is it possible that the California Department of Public Health has a some of its own? According to Americans for Tax Reform:
In targeting an effective smoking cessation device – vapor products – it is clear that the California Department of Public Health wants to maintain cigarette sales as an important funding source for their big spending priorities. By discouraging vaping, the state may recoup potential revenue losses that occur when a smoker transitions from unhealthy cigarette use to products proven to be 99% less harmful, but not taxed as much.
In short, Big Government’s interest in maintaining a robust supply of new cigarette smokers is every bit as mercenary as Big Tobacco’s.