A proposed ban on the sale of flavored tobacco products in the city of San Francisco, US, has been portrayed as a fight between pro-ban David and anti-ban Goliath, but the allegory doesn’t work because David isn’t the good, little guy he’s made out to be.
In a piece for the Competitive Enterprise Institute, Michelle Minton wrote on Friday that ‘big tobacco’ was pouring millions into a campaign to maintain its ability to keep selling harmful products that target children. ‘At least, that’s the narrative most news outlets have sold about Proposition E, a measure on the city’s June 5th ballot, which would ban the sale of flavors, including menthol, for tobacco products, including e-cigarettes,’ she added as clarification.
‘The David and Goliath story is compelling, but don’t be fooled. The other side, comprised of hundreds of anti-tobacco activists, is just – if not more – powerful than big tobacco companies. These groups have an advantage by cloaking their support of Prop E under the guise of “public health” and the support of factions in government and the university system, along with the industries that compete with e-cigarettes (e.g. big pharma). They also have vast financial resources, including taxpayer money, which they can spend without reporting it as “lobbying”.’
Minton goes on to describe the amounts and types of funding behind this lobbying and ‘non-lobbying’.
And she looks at the situation as it is currently, concluding, in part, that ‘kids, it seems, are neither targeted nor very interested in vaping, despite what anti-vaping activists claim’.
‘However, adult smokers increasingly rely on these devices as a safer means of consuming nicotine.
‘While likely not risk-free, recent analyses estimate that vaping has just one percent of the cancer risk that traditional combustible cigarettes carry.
‘And flavor seems to be an essential element in keeping people from returning to cigarettes. As a 2013 study found, the number of flavors a vaper used was independently associated with smoking cessation.’