Something from the recent Throne Speech here in Nova Scotia struck me as quite odd. Specifically, a local news story quoted that the Premier “promised in the throne speech to ban the use of e-cigarettes in public places.”
Nova Scotia would not be the first jurisdiction to take this step and it would join a long list of jurisdictions which have enacted such legislation or by-laws. I am not an advocate of e-cigarettes nor did I understand much about them prior to doing some research for this post, but my understanding of some of the logic behind this intended ban on e-cigarettes in public places is that they promote the use of real cigarettes…….. which are perfectly legal to use in outdoor public places!
So we have product X which is a perfectly legal product to use in public places despite the negative health effects associated with it. And here we have product Y which is new to the market with much conjecture as to whether it helps people stop using product X or if it might promote the use of product X. So what several jurisdictions have decided to do is ban the use of product Y because it might promote the use of the perfectly legal product X.
I have been trying to come up with a proper idiom for this type of thinking. “Closing the barn door after the horse gets out” is not quite right, nor is “putting the cart before the horse” (evidently a horse must be involved). Isn’t there a German word that describes this kind of thinking? If product Y is so bad because it promotes the use of product X then logically should product X not just be removed from the market? Lacking the intestinal fortitude to take that step with product X it just strikes me as quite odd that the supposed reasoned approach is to ban the use of product Y in public places. Perhaps it makes some sense in an overall reduction of harm frame of thinking but not from a logical way of approaching product X and Y.