Anti-Vaping Florida Amendment Clears Vote To Appear On November Ballot

Steve Birr | Vice Reporter

An anti-vaping amendment largely relegating the use of electronic cigarettes to smoking areas will appear on the November ballot in Florida after clearing a final vote.

Members of the Florida Constitution Revision Commission voted 33-3 without debate April 16 in favor of Proposal 6004, which places a vaping ban and offshore oil drilling ban on the election ballot for voters to decide on in November. The vaping amendment, with former Republican state Sen. Lisa Carlton spearheading the charge, would ban the harm reduction devices in all workplaces in the state — as well as nursing homes and assisted living facilities, CBS 12 reported.

The vote comes amid intense criticism aimed at the commission for voting April 4 to lump various, unrelated proposals together in what detractors say is an effort to force voters to accept constitutional changes they do not support. The vaping amendment is coupled with an amendment banning offshore drilling for gas and oil.

A coalition including the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida, the First Amendment Foundation, the AFL-CIO of Florida and the League of Women Voters of Florida is condemning the move, calling it a “dramatic departure” from protocol followed in 1998 — the last time the Constitution Revision Commission met.

The commission meets every 20 years to discuss updates to the Florida Constitution and has authority to put issues to the people through a ballot vote without approval from the state legislature.

The vaping and oil issues were legislatively linked because, “if anything went together,” it’s clean air and clean water, Brecht Heuchan, chairman of the commission’s Style and Drafting Committee, claimed Monday. Claims about “clean air” and secondhand exposure when it comes to vaping, however, are unfounded.

Research published in the Journal of Aerosol Science in January shows chemical levels in the vapor released from e-cigarettes are well below the safety limits the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the World Health Organization suggest. Vaping is statistically 5,700 times less harmful to users than combustible cigarettes, drastically reducing the risk of developing smoking related illnesses, the study determined.

Former smokers relying on vaping devices strongly oppose the proposed restrictions, arguing it will force them back into smoking areas, negating the harm reduction benefits of quitting combustible cigarettes.

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