Thursday, March 31, 2011

Consumer Group Urges Vote Against E-cigarette Usage Ban

The Consumer Advocates for Smoke-free Alternatives Association (CASAA) urges Springfield, MO voters to say "no" to Council Bill No. 2011-012 that would amend Chapter 58 of the Springfield City Code to include the use of an electronic cigarette (e-cigarette) in the anti-smoking ordinances. CASAA is a non-profit organization that works to ensure the availability of reduced harm alternatives to smoking and to provide the public with truthful information about such alternatives. 

"E-cigarettes do not produce smoke," stated CASAA's medical director, Dr. Theresa Whitt, M.D.  "Smoke delivers tar, carbon monoxide, particulates, and thousands of chemicals created by the process of combustion.  Because nothing is burned in an electronic cigarette (e-cigarette), the vapor does not contain any of these harmful substances. Nicotine does not cause lung disease, heart disease, or cancer—smoke does". An e-cigarette consists of a battery; an atomizer; and a cartridge that contains propylene glycol (PG) or vegetable glycerin (VG), flavoring, and optional strengths of nicotine. When the user activates the unit, the battery supplies heat to the atomizer, which vaporizes some of the liquid in the cartridge. According to Health New Zealand, the vapor is "harmless, inhaled or exhaled." The vapor dissipates quickly and there is no lingering odor. 

"The language in the proposed bill reflects a serious misunderstanding of the purpose of the e-cigarette," stated Dr. Whitt. "E-cigarettes are not being used for 'circumventing the prohibition of smoking.' The majority of consumers use e-cigarettes as a complete replacement for all their tobacco cigarettes, and most of the rest use e-cigarettes to reduce the number of cigarettes per day they smoke.  These products are improving the health of their users, and could save the lives of many more smokers—provided their use is not discouraged." 

Dr. Whitt explained that CASAA surveys have found that many e-cigarette users first discover the safer devices when they see them being used where smoking isn't allowed.  Banning indoor use, forcing e-cigarette users outside, removes an incentive for continuing smokers to switch to an alternative that could reduce their risks of smoking-related disease by up to 99%.  She said that, as written, Council Bill No. 2011-012 stands to do more harm to public health than good.

The CASAA.org web site provides information on research, lab reports, news, and links to journal articles about tobacco harm reduction and safer alternatives to smoking.

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