Why did Florida just ban indoor vaping and offshore drilling with just one vote?

Why did Florida just ban indoor vaping and offshore drilling with just one vote?

The state of Florida voted in favor of Amendment 9 that groups the two problems together for environmental reasons.

Amendment 9 "is totally undemocratic," Gregory Conley, president of the American Vaping Association, a nonprofit advocacy group, told me over the phone.

The measure "sends the false message to adult smokers that these products actually pose harm that is in some way comparable to cigarette smoke," Conley said. He claimed that attaching the ban to an offshore drilling measure ensured it would pass.

Nearly a dozen states have passed their own vaping bans, and whether they are a good or bad thing is still up for debate. Historically, the industry has been deregulated (although the FDA regulated it in 2016), and critics say the greatest danger lies in vaping affiliates like Juul, which targets teens.

And while vaping is (so far) demonstrably less dangerous than smoking, and perhaps not by a large margin, it can still be dangerous to human health through toxic chemicals that flavor the e-liquid.

What is less clear is the environmental footprint of vaping. "Vaping is so much better for the environment than the cigarette butts found around the beach," Conley said.

It is true that vapes could reduce garbage, especially devices that can be used multiple times. However, Juul and similar products can generate a not insignificant amount of electronic waste, as they are expensive to recycle. The results of a 2017 study by Harvard University researchers also suggest that vaping emissions could be a source of environmental pollution.

Amendment 9 was proposed by the Florida Constitution Review Commission, a commission that forms once every 20 years to refer constitutional amendments to the ballot, Mother Jones reported last month. The pairing of measures was intended to simplify voting.

While the measure exceeded the number of votes needed to pass, it was not without controversy. “Our concern for the environment prevails over our concern to include vaping in the Constitution,” said the League of Women Voters of Florida in its endorsement of Amendment 9.

"It doesn't make sense to the average voter why they got together," University of South Florida political science professor Susan MacManus told the Daytona Beach News-Journal.

Another similarly constructed Florida amendment paired the issue of college fees with first responder and military death benefits.

Original article (in English)

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