Friday, 7 March 2014

The Norwegian Heart and Lung Patient Organization (LHL) asks employers to ban e-cigarettes

The Norwegian Heart and Lung Patient Organization
don't want me to vape at work.
In this article in Norwegian publication "Dagens medisin" ("Daily medicine") The Norwegian Heart and Lung Patient Organization (LHL) asks employers, and other owners of premises where people gather, to ban e-cigarettes in the same way smoking is banned. The Norwegian Health Department wanted e-cigarettes to be part of the Norwegian tobacco law when it was revised last year, but the suggestion was left out by a mistake. Turns out they forgot to ban e-cigarettes. This means that it is up to the employers themselves to decide whether or not e-cigarettes is permitted indoors. And now, LHL is asking employers to act as if the tobacco law included e-cigarettes. Their arguments for doing this? Not surprisingly they pull out their precautionary principles and that "we don't know enough about the e-cigarettes yet", which I agree with them on. They don't know enough about e-cigarettes yet, because the haven't taken the time to ask someone or just google it.

General secretary of the LHL, Frode Jahren, says that even though e-cigarettes are assumed to be far less harmful than normal cigarettes, there is people that will react to it and that one shouldn't need a law to tell us to use common sense show respect for others... but still he wants employers to implement rules to ban e-cigarettes everywhere indoors even if no-one reacts to the vapor. Where is the common sense in that?

Jahren is then asked this question: "Some will react to the use of perfume in public spaces as well. Should we ban everything we don't like?" Seems like the journalist might have caught the point here. Jahren responds saying that we don't know enough (editor: Wrong Jahren, you don't), and then he pulls out the normalization argument, which I wrote about yesterday:

But, luckily, we have SIRUS here in Norway. Again, Karl Erik Lund comments on the case and tells the readers of "Dagens medisin" what we do know about e-cigarettes, and how "dangerous" they really are. He argues that if we should ban e-cigarettes because of the health risks, we also need to ban theatrical smoke. Lund also says that a lot of people have learned to hate smoke and their resistance towards e-cigarettes are based on feelings rather than reason. He concludes that the arguments for banning e-cigarettes by including them in the tobacco law is "pretty weak".

After reading the article I'm left with the feeling that a lot of these organizations are just the victims of ignorance. I really do think that LHL doesn't know enough about e-cigarettes and vaping, and that they do believe the gateway argument and the normalization argument. It's not that strange really, cause these arguments are the same as thos used by the Health Department here in Norway. And this is potentially a big problem. If the patient organizations stop thinking and just adopts whatever argument the health department give them, they become rather useless. A lot of these organizations have done a lot of great work, fighting for their members patient rights, but in the case of the e-cigarettes, I say they haven't done their job at all. And I'm sad to see that.


  1. Jeroen Dehaene7 March 2014 at 22:34

    Good post! Similar situation here in Holland, no one knows what they are talking about. i think what we really need are doctors that speak out in favor of harmreduction, just like it's happening in the UK and France. My "strategy" is to engange as many as I can, especially those who twitter or blog. Despite my lack of absolute medical knowledge, I know all about vaping and stats of people quitting, declining tobacco sales etc. I' m sure we will win this, over time.

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