Infrastructure

Infrastructure Bill Bans Vaping on Amtrak

Amtrak's funding will double under the bipartisan infrastructure bill, while Amtrak passengers will have to put up with more rules.

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The bipartisan infrastructure bill released last night gives a lot more money to Amtrak. Passengers of the rail service, meanwhile, get more rules about their onboard behavior.

Tucked into the 2,700-page bill is a clause that would ban smoking anywhere on an Amtrak train. The bill's text explicitly says that electronic cigarettes and other vaping devices would be covered by the ban.

Existing Amtrak policy already prohibits smoking and vaping on trains, although it is permitted in designated areas of some train stations. But some lawmakers argue that this isn't good enough, since a more consumer-friendly Amtrak management could re-permit smoking or vaping all on its own.

"Although Amtrak has implemented its own policy banning smoking on trains, this policy could be reversed if not codified, particularly in regard to e-cigarettes," said Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D–D.C.) in a press release back in 2019, when she first introduced a bill to ban vaping on Amtrak. "I am reminding my colleagues of the countless lives lost during the decades it took states to ban smoking in public areas. We should not make the same mistake again by delaying banning electronic cigarettes and vaping devices on trains."

This isn't Norton's first attempt to stop travelers from vaping. In 2016, she introduced a bill to expand the ban on smoking on passenger airplanes to include vaping. That famously led former Rep. Duncan Hunter (R–Calif.) to vape in a committee hearing to emphasize that vaping was not, in fact, the same as smoking. Despite his efforts, the airline vaping ban was eventually included in Congress' 2018 reauthorization of the Federal Aviation Administration.

Norton's Amtrak vaping ban was folded into House Democrats' more expansive transportation bill back in June. Its inclusion in the new bipartisan bill gives it a good chance of passing the Senate as well.

Though its immediate practical implications are limited, codifying Amtrak's vaping ban into law is far more noxious than the fumes vapers themselves might emit.

The negative health effects of second-hand smoke have already been exaggerated to justify smoking bans. Subjecting far less dangerous vaping products to the same restrictions on public health grounds is absurd. It's conceivable that a ban on people vaping on trains and planes will actually costs lives by encouraging e-cigarette users to travel in more dangerous automobiles on long-distance trips.

Moreover, codifying Amtrak's vaping ban seems to cut against the purpose of all the extra money that the infrastructure bill throws at the company.

Prior to the pandemic, Congress authorized about $1.7 billion each year in federal subsidies for Amtrak. The bipartisan infrastructure bill would give the service close to $4 billion each year. The idea is to improve and expand service so as to increase ridership. That goal isn't helped by telling the vaping public they'll have to put their e-cigarette away during the 18 hours it takes to ride from New York to Chicago.

NEXT: That Weird California Computer Ban Isn't What It Appears to Be. It's Dumber.

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  1. Vapor is not infrastructure.

    1. All infrastructure begins as vaporware.

      The Surgeon General should confiscate Rep. Norton’s electric train set.

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      2. Most of it remains vaporware despite or perhaps because of the spending.

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  2. I’m sure the 5 Amtrak passengers are relieved to know this.

    1. The 3 fatties and the 2 Amish guys.

      1. How come the Amish are never fat?

  3. One would think you could not be a douche to your fellow passengers by vaping anyhow and stinking up the train. Same as showering before boarding a train, a plane, etc.

    Also, you get the award for dumbest take of the day with this stretch: “It’s conceivable that a ban on people vaping on trains and planes will actually costs lives by encouraging e-cigarette users to travel in more dangerous automobiles on long-distance trips.”

    1. “Also, you get the award for dumbest take of the day with this stretch: “It’s conceivable that a ban on people vaping on trains and planes will actually costs lives by encouraging e-cigarette users to travel in more dangerous automobiles on long-distance trips.”

      I actually with you there, people won’t stop taking Amtrak because they can’t vape, people already don’t take Amtrak because its a shitty form of transportation

    2. Well then let’s ban overly powerful perfumes and colognes, stinky egg salad sandwiches, and people who take their shoes off.

      I mean I know you’re a fucking shitbag leftie who gets off on regulations and totalitarian enforcement, so this is not going to penetrate your thick braincase.

  4. Trains – they pick you up where you aren’t and drop you off where you aren’t going to. Unless you live in the NY-DC corridor, when it is convenient and paid for by flyover people.

    1. NY-DC corridor is the only profitable route. It’s the rest of the Amtrak system that loses money. NY-DC is the only region in the country with enough population to support a long distance passenger train system.

      https://www.devicetech.com/rail/amtrak-lose-money-ceo-solution/

  5. You haven’t seen America while vaping until you’ve seen America (while vaping) on Amtrack.

  6. I really like the public transportation “infrastructure” in my town. One (1) bus. Designed to look like a trolley. Sorta cool, actually. Oh yeah, and it actually pays for itself. By law. Imagine that!

  7. The bipartisan infrastructure bill released last night gives a lot more money to Amtrak.

    Ol’ Joe loves his choo-choo trains.

    1. Joe drove the golden spike that completed the Transcontinental Railway. Well, he would have been there, but he was busy driving a semi at the time.

      1. With and onion tied to his belt, which was the style at the time…

  8. How about the two days it takes to go from Orlando to Atlanta by train? (lv 7:30PM. av 8:34AM the day after tomorrow. 37hr 11min)
    As opposed to 6 1/2 hours by car.

    1. I once took Amtrak from Chicago to St Louis, it was 14 hours (compared to a 5 our drive)

      We then had to rent a car and drive another 2 hours to get where we were actually going

      1. I took it once from Baltimore to Philly, worked out well and it was during the Democratic National Convention weekend (Hilldog coronation) which had me worried, extra security and extra wait time – but nope it ran smoothly.

        And no wasn’t going to the convention, was helping my brother get out of that hellhole, moved him cross country to Denver.

        1. Forget to add, still not worth subsidizing through tax payer dollars.

          But easier to bring weed on than a plane.

        2. Baltimore to Philly is probably one of the fastest and shortest Amtrak segment -just over an hour, so somewhat tolerable. If I had to take it much longer than that, I’d rather walk

    2. Hartford, CT to Chicago, IL….25 hours. That trip sucked.

  9. Does anyone still believe that vaping will somehow escape the restrictions we have on smoking?

    1. No. It’s been that way in many places from the beginning, before even the teenyboppers started Juuling. I remember trying to vape at a bar in DC around 2010 and the bartender told me he couldn’t allow that because the city had sent out spies to report vapers (he personally didn’t agree with it but was obviously worried he might get a violation). I actually think penalties for vaping will be worse than smoking-like how sentences for crack possession were more harsh than for cocaine.

    2. It seems to be in the past century that edicts get unmoored from the reasons for their adoption, so that anything viewed as a substitute for the prohibited activity comes to be treated the same, even if the substitute is not objectionable in the same way. This would probably be the case for any safer alternatives to controlled substances. It’s already been attempted for simulated child pornography. It’s been done to workarounds for the dirty words in broadcasting.

      It’s like the prohibition itself — its inconvenience, its pain, its costs — come to be seen as the point, rather than whatever public policy aim it originally had.

      1. I noticed radio stations don’t censor the word “arse”. Listen to any British pop-singer singing about dancing their arse off.

  10. *Clang*Clang*Clang* ______ ___ ______!

    1. Wow, nothing. And to think, 94% of Millennials are Gay, and 97% of Gen Z is either gay or trans. And NO one finished that phrase. America has lost something.

      1. …and while the LP as a party is largely neutral on gay issues, individual Libertarians are largely hostile to gays. I’ve experienced it myself.

        THAT’s why you didn’t get any response here in two hours (besides it being a work day largely during business hours when people are working)

  11. the 1750 people per state who use amtrak every day are going to be pissed … expect riots

  12. Note that the main concern is that future amtrack management might change policy in order to make it more attractive to customers

    1. We must stamp out these little pockets if freedom before they flare out of control.

  13. Big Pharma and Bloomberg have financed, and Democrats have championed virtually all Puritanical vaping bans, vapor product sales bans/restrictions and taxes (that primarily protect cigarette markets).

    Politics makes strange bedfellows.

    1. Never understood the progs’ obsession with vaping. Reminds me of social conservatives in the 1980s obsession with gays and heavy metal .

  14. An UN-Constitutional bill *stealing* from it’s citizens (by armed robbery) to fund MORE National Socialism (def; Nazism).

  15. Slow trains were only cool when they had bar cars and observation cars.

  16. Outside the northeast corridor, Amtrak trains have maybe 5 passengers per car who aren’t paying attention to what you’re doing. So hide behind a newspaper and vape away while keeping an eye out for the conductor

    1. Can confirm. Have watched porn on an Amtrak long distance train.

  17. I miss secondhand smoke to be honest. I never understood the argument that smoking bans were good for business. If that were true wouldn’t have bars and restaurants banned it on their own long before?

  18. “Congress authorized about $1.7 billion each year in federal subsidies for Amtrak.”

    Isn’t this what a libertarian magazine should be upset about?

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