The Oxford Board of Aldermen recently voted to have another public hearing to potentially add further provisions on the vape ban in our city. This comes after months of deliberation from health care officials, local government officials and concerned private citizens about the issue of the commonly used Juul vape pen.
Full disclosure: I am neither pro-vape nor anti-vape. But it makes me mad that the city government wants to take away our rights to do what we want to with our bodies. I also find the way they are handling this situation slightly comical.
Government officials – local and national – are exceedingly naive in how they are implementing vape bans for a couple of different reasons: kids are going to engage in risky behaviors regardless of a ban, banning vape-related products without a succession plan is no way to implement a policy and the city is taking away our basic right to freedom.
Teenagers are notorious for doing what they want, when they want. It is only natural for them to engage in risky behaviors, whether that be taking drugs or drinking. Vaping is no different. Most of us will agree that when you tell someone not to eat or do something, they are going to want to do it. So, if we tell teens not to vape, it is going to make them want to vape even more –– even if we tell them about the potential negative health consequences.
It is a general rule of thumb that whenever we make a transition, whether that be between presidential administrations or a new technology replacing an old one, there needs to be a succession plan in place to make the transition successful. It is absurd for the city to flat-out ban vaping in restaurants. Some people who use vaping devices are physically dependent on nicotine and cannot go extended periods of time without it. If we are going to ban vaping, we should have a transitional period, which would include allowing businesses to have designated vaping areas. This would be similar to when we allowed businesses to have designating smoking areas, and it would help people transition off of vaping and lessen their nicotine dependence.
I believe that it is not the government’s job to restrict what goes in our bodies, especially when we give informed consent. I have never vaped and never plan to. Despite this, I do not think that it is fair for someone to restrict someone else’s freedom because he or she does not agree with the action.
Helen Claire McNulty is a junior biology major from Holland, Michigan and West Palm Beach, Florida.