That line between public health and Puritanism

We're not quite sure whether we should be saying there's only a fine line between public health pronouncements and Puritanism or no line at all. Can't quite weigh up the linguistic distinctions:

E-cigarettes should be banned from public places like bars and restaurants because of the risks of "passive vaping," medics say.

Senior doctors said that allowing people to vape openly normalises the habit, and could encourage children to take it up.

But public health officials immediately rejected the idea – saying it could be damaging as it might deter smokers from switching to e-cigarettes.

Speaking at the British Medical Association’s annual meeting in Belfast, Dr Iain Kennedy, a consultant in public health from Glasgow, called for a ban, warning that there is no evidence of the long-term safety of the habit.

Dr Iain Kennedy, a consultant in public health, from Glasgow, said: “It is a myth that there is no such thing as passive vaping.”

He said there was clear evidence that non-vapers living in households with vapers had higher levels of exposure to nicotine.

“There are new potential risks, and we don’t yet know the level of those risks,” he said.

Well, actually, we do know rather a lot about such risks. Nicotine, as per nicotine itself, isn't all that much of a danger to human beings. This is why such things a nicotine patches are widely available. Because there's not much danger to anyone from them. Smoking on the other hand we know is dangerous. It being the lighting of the stuff and sucking in the smoke which makes it so.

Absolutely any evaluation of the two practices is thus going to come down one the side of not just allowing but encouraging, possibly even subsidising, people to vape not smoke. That is, if we are to judge on public health grounds rather than those of Puritanism.

You know, that worry that someone, somewhere, might be enjoying themselves?