Now its Oregon: another shot at a ban without calling it such

Starting off with some really good news, in Utah they rejected that bill to ban e-cigarettes that had no on/off switches and any flavored nicotine products.

There is a good report on that over at CAASA.

“I spoke with many of the committee members before the hearing,” Ward [a CASAA director] said, “and I found that most, like Reps. Todd Kiser and Gage Froerer, expressed a sincere desire to do the right thing by their constituents. We’re all grateful they listened. They likely saved some lives today.”

Yes, they almost certainly did. Good for them. But we still have the situation in Iowa, where they want to make low risk nicotine products less available than cigarettes.

And now there is another attempt at a ban without calling it such. Oregon wants to make it a requirement that all nicotine products can only be purchased with a prescription, I assume this includes e-cigarettes and e-liquid.

A bill introduced into the Oregon House of Representatives would make it a crime to purchase cigarettes, cigars or other products containing tobacco without a doctors prescription. House Bill 2233, sponsored by Representative Mitch Greenlick, would make the unlawful possession of nicotine a crime.

The bill was scheduled for a public hearing Friday. If passed, the State Board of Pharmacy would be instructed to adopt rules making nicotine a Schedule III controlled substance. The legislation would make the unlawful possession of nicotine a crime punishable by a maximum of one year’s imprisonment, $6,250 fine, or both.

In addition, the legislation would make the unlawful distribution of nicotine a crime, punishable by a maximum of one year’s imprisonment, $6,250 fine, or both.

The bill’s sponsor is Mitch Greenlick, representing Oregon District 33 in the House of Representatives. Greenlick is also responsible for sponsoring a measure (House Bill 2228) that would outlaw letting children under 6 riding in bike trailers, and a bill (HB 2644) to tax soda pop.

This is so ludicrous that I cannot see it making it very far but despite the long odds I can hear the sounds of black marketers and other criminal elements loudly smacking their lips in anticipation of this coming to pass.

With the existing stigma of being a nicotine user of any kind in this country you already have many people who want to hide their use. Some of these will utterly reject the idea of opening up to a doctor and go straight to either existing black market sources or purchase counterfeit prescriptions which almost immediately be available. (Nature and criminal types both abhor a vacuum).

Users who make appointments will find that many doctors will simply refuse to prescribe nicotine (they will call it “out of principle”) and others will force a reduction by prescribing less than the desired amount. Once again, those rejected will move to the black market and those who are underprescribed will supplement.

Then those lucky ones with prescription in hand will make their way to the pharmacy only to find that many of them refuse (on principle) to stock or sell nicotine products. Once again, some of these will move to the black market.

Since a new layer of compliance is being added (prescribing and filling prescriptions) it is quite likely that the costs will be passed to the users so tobacco becomes even more expensive and you have yet another good reason to find an illicit source.

Of course, all the tobacco outlets near the borders of Oregon will flourish as never before. And so might veterinarians, who according to the bill, will be able to write prescriptions for nicotine. I am not sure of the motivation behind that unless its one of those little known facts like “did you know that in Oregon veterinarians can write prescriptions just like doctors?”

But as much as the anti-tobacco folks like this idea they will probably be concerned that a prescription for nicotine could be construed as an endorsement. And it just might make some of those “no smoker need apply” job restrictions seem unjustifiable. In fact, it if is prescribed it just might call into question all present public limitations of use.

I can’t see this making it through since apart from bolstering the criminal economy it also moves a lot of business from retail outlets to pharmacies (which should generate a great deal of protest from the small business community) and for all those folks who already feel the government knows a little too much, under this new system, all users would be identified and tracked.

Sponsor Greenlick obviously believes prescribing is a reasonable way to control behaviors. What next? Prescriptions for alcohol? Potato chips?

On the bright side, (the only bright side I fear) if this did go through, and doctors (and vets) had to prescribe nicotine, they might actually “on principle” find out a little more about nicotine and come up to speed on what the health risks were with the different products.

-Paul L. Bergen

8 thoughts on “Now its Oregon: another shot at a ban without calling it such

  1. Pingback: More on Oregon and the prescribing of nicotine « Tobacco Harm Reduction: News & Opinions

  2. Just a quick question. If the state is going to declare nicotine to be a schedule III controlled substance that doctor’s will have to prescribe and pharmacies will have to fill, haven’t they just put the products into a classification that would require FDA approval?

  3. To the best of my understanding, and I am hardly an expert in this, the state would have to petition the DEA which then contacts a few other agencies (HHS, NIDA and FDA) and then with their feedback makes a decision. So it may the state is really trying to do something they don’t really have the power to. And given that chain, and the agencies involved, I cannot imagine that the new classification could be limited to one state. But we might need to get a lawyer in to definitively answer this question.

  4. E-cigs have saved my wife’s life and mine too… Not smoked in 8 months= ENOUGH SAID RESEARCH THE PRODUCT Pleaseeeeeeeeeee

  5. Pingback: » The absolute best electronic cigarette links from around the web - Ashtray Blog: An Electronic Cigarette Blog

  6. Can we sell ole Mitch Greenlick to north Korea possibly? I’m sure they could use his propaganda skills. Seriously.

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