The St. Paul City Council yesterday delayed a vote on an ordinance that would require sellers of "e-cigarettes" to be licensed like any store that sells tobacco products. The ordinance had been proposed in spite of the fact that e-cigs contain no tobacco and produce vapor instead of smoke. In essence, the City Council, which has already cracked down on smokers, is considering giving the same treatment to "vapers".
Just what is an e-cigarette? Steve K., editor of the website Steve K's Vaping World, offers a detailed explanation:
Whether a mod or a traditional e-cigarette, all devices work using the same basic principle. Electronic cigarettes consist of three basic parts, a battery, a heating element and liquid. The user (also known as a vaper) activates the device either by inhaling or pressing a button.
When activated, the battery passes electric current through the heating element which rapidly heats. The liquid, known as e-liquid comes into contact with the heating element and quickly vaporizes. The vaper then inhales the vapor similar to a regular cigarette.
This is the same principle that fog machines use to produce mist, but on a smaller scale. The liquid used is either propylene glycol or glycerine which vaporize at lower temperatures (more efficiently -sk) than water. e-Liquid usually also contains flavoring and nicotine.
For many, electronic cigarettes have been viewed as a slightly healthier alternative to traditional, tar-filled, air-polluting cigarettes. Even anti-smoking zealot Dave Thune is sympathetic. "It gives an alternative for people who are trying to quit smoking," he told MPR, "and they can smoke something other than the tars and nasty stuff that kill people in cigarettes."
At least the City Council has the decency to hold off on regulating something until more is learned about what exactly it is they want to regulate. But expect some sort of ordinance to be passed soon. Exercising control over the lives of others is how governing bodies justify their existence.