In the US, the Florida Constitution Revision Commission has approved a proposed constitutional amendment that would combine a state-wide ban on nearshore oil and gas drilling with a ban on e-cigarette use in workplaces. The proposal will now face a vote. But how are the two linked?
That’s the question on many peoples’ lips in Tallahassee, Florida’s state capital.
On the drilling side, the amendment would see a state-wide constitutional ban on Florida granting leases to drill for oil or natural gas in state-controlled coastal waters. Where e-cigarettes are concerned, state officials say the issues are linked because the sponsors of the different proposals worked together with a moniker of “clean air, clean water.”
While there is no research evidence to suggest there is any harm in second-hand vapour, it is unclear to many as to why vaping in the workplace is appearing on the ballot sheet now and with this coupling.
This proposal, if passed, would be in line with Florida Governor Rick Scott’s opposition to President Donald Trump’s measures to allow for oil and gas drilling in federal waters.
The story emerged this week from the state’s leading oil and gas lobbyist from the Florida Petroleum Council. Executive director of the council is David Mica and he has called the proposal “surreal” and “bizarre”. Speaking to local media, he said there’s no reason why economic aims and public health matters should be linked in a state-wide ban.
“It just doesn’t make sense that they should be linked together. You should be able to make decisions about your public health and your economic viability separately.”
A former Florida state senator is the main driving force behind the proposed ban. Lisa Carlton says Floridians have been subjected to second-hand vapor when they attend movies, restaurants and other public places thanks to the popularity of vaping. She has previously told the Tampa Bay Times:
“Add e-cigarettes and vaping into the constitution so that our citizens can stop being experiments. Because that’s what we’ve been … as those of us who don’t vape have been an experiment for all of the citizens that are vaping.”
The proposal, which aims to add “vapor-generating electronic devices” to the 2002 smoking ban, will go before voters during the November 6 general election later this year. With Carlton’s backing, the proposal would change the wording of the 15-year-old smoking ban from “workplaces without tobacco smoke” to “workplaces without tobacco smoke or vapor.”
However passing constitutional amendments in the US is not based on a majority vote — instead, the overall majority must be at least 60 percent of votes.
There is currently no nationwide workplace ban on e-cigarettes in the US, however three states have brought about state bans. Utah, North Dakota and New Jersey have enacted legislation preventing employees from smoking at their desks.