Vice wants to bring back indoor smoking sections: "local coffee shop . . . would be a lot cooler"

At first glance I thought maybe this recent article in VICE—which argues for the revival of indoor smoking at bars, restaurants, concert venues, and more—was parody. It's not, though. The author of the piece, Magdalene Taylor, posits that because folks can vape indoors—even though second hand vape smoke might be dangerous to inhale—then folks should be able to also smoke indoors. Taylor also argues that "much of the science used to support smoking bans due to secondhand smoke impacts was dubious" but then admits that "as mixed as the research is, it seems obvious that inhaling any of these substances, be it in smoke or vapor form, might negatively impact your health."

Here's a gem from the piece:

Smoking a cigarette indoors—particularly at a bar or strip club or other adult establishment—is one of God's little divine offerings. These are sacred spaces in which to partake in an ancient pasttime. While the era of smoking sections at restaurants precedes me, I have many memories of my father ensuring the dingy motel rooms we booked on our family vacations to places like Hampton Beach, New Hampshire, would allow him to light up without penalty. Oh, and just so it's clear that I am not being glib about the risks of smoking, my father now has advanced COPD. Still, I acknowledge that it is not only his right to smoke but his right to join his fellow man in doing so in various smoker-friendly spaces. 

Taylor also writes that your "local coffee shop . . . would be a lot cooler" if it set up a vaping and smoking section. And that they'd "enjoy the return of smoking sections" in restaurants. 

This piece, and several other pro-smoking and pro-vaping on the VICE website made me wonder what, exactly, was going on here. I couldn't find any direct connections to tobacco money for this particular article, and I can't figure out if VICE and tobacco company Philip Morris are still working together, but for years, Philip Morris hired VICE Media to, as The Guardian put it in 2016, use "its expertise targeting young people to made ads" for them.

In March, 2019 the Financial Times reported that VICE struck a $6.5 million deal with Philip Morris to produce sponsored content endorsing e-cigarettes. According to Truth Initiative:

Vice and Phillip Morris International have disputed the details of the arrangement and claim it will not promote vaping, but they have acknowledged that Vice is accepting funding from Phillip Morris International to create a media platform. 

In April 2019, Truth Initiative reported that a coalition of eight national and international health organizations urged The Walt Disney Company to force VICE (which is partially owned by Disney) to end its relationship with Philip Morris International. They explain:

Disney, a prominent stakeholder, has invested more than $400 million in Vice and reportedly owns more than 10% of the company. The health organizations are asking Disney to require that Vice adopt a strict policy prohibiting the company and its subsidiaries from working with tobacco companies. Second, the groups want Disney to require Vice to make all tobacco-related business relationships public, including a detailed description of all tobacco-related marketing activities.

Vice's existing partnership with Philip Morris International undermines the strong anti-tobacco stance taken by Disney and its commitment to protecting youth from tobacco and smoke exposure, according to the health organizations.

And in this 2019 piece, Daniel Voshart argues that "Philip Morris continues its century-long campaign of deception with the help of Vice Media." Voshart was contacted by a member of the Vice/PMI partnership, who told Voshart: 

"[Vice] is acting as an extension of [Philip Morris International] masquerading as a social impact initiative that will attempt to get millions of people across the globe hooked on a new product".

Voshart continues:

Any real criticism of Philip Morris was being stifled by upper management. Heath experts: effectively blacklisted. Negative studies about PMI products: don't talk about them. Vice was going to prostitute its name for "nine figures". (Financial Times reporting earlier today a "£5m sponsored content deal to promote ecigarettes")

Again, I couldn't find any more recent evidence that VICE is still working with Philip Morris, but something tells me they might be. Drop a link in the boards if you've found any updated information. In the meantime, please let me continue to avoid secondhand smoke when I'm indoors. It's bad enough that we have to breathe each other's COVID-laced air. I really don't want to add cigarette smoke back into the mix, too.