Monday, April 18, 2011

Email sent to Macon GA City Council

This is the text of the email message sent to members of the Macon GA City Council.

Subject: Limit Definition of Smoking to Products that Generate Smoke

Dear Council Member:

The Consumer Advocates for Smoke-free Alternatives Association (CASAA) strongly urges you to amend the proposed Smoking Ordinance to exclude smoke-free electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) from the definition of "smoking" because they emit no tobacco smoke and pose no known health risks.  CASAA is a non-profit organization that works to ensure the availability of reduced harm alternatives to cigarette smoking and to provide the public with truthful information about such alternatives. 

Indoor smoking bans have been enacted to protect workers and patrons from the harmful effects of tobacco smoke. But e- cigarettes emit vapor, not smoke.  In the interest of truthfulness and public health, CASAA urges the City Council to amend Section 1(a), Definitions, item 20 to state: 

Smoking means inhaling, exhaling, burning, or carrying any lighted cigar, cigarette, or pipe, or any other lighted tobacco product intended for inhalation, or in any manner or in any form.  The term smoking shall not include the use of an electronic cigarette or other noncombustible tobacco or nicotine product.

It is critically important to understand the scientific differences between smoke and vapor.  Smoke is created by the process of combustion. Burning any plant matter creates tar, carbon monoxide, particulates, and thousands of other chemicals and constituents.  Inhaling tobacco smoke causes more than 99% of tobacco-attributable diseases and deaths. 

In sharp contrast, the tiny amount of vapor emitted by an e-cigarette doesn't contain any smoke because it is not created by the process of combustion. Dr. Murray Laugesen of Health New Zealand tested e-cigarette vapor for over 50 cigarette smoke toxicants. No such toxicant was found. Dr. Laugesen stated, "Relative to lethal tobacco smoke emissions, e-cigarette emissions appear to be several magnitudes safer. E-cigarettes are akin to a medicinal nicotine inhalator in safety, dose, and addiction potential."  [1]

Dr. Michael Siegel of Boston University School of Public Health reviewed the available evidence on the safety and effectiveness of e-cigarettes—including the testing conducted by the FDA in 2009—and concluded, "A preponderance of the available evidence shows them to be much safer than tobacco cigarettes and comparable in toxicity to conventional nicotine replacement products." [2]

Thus, there is no public health or safety justification for banning the indoor use of e-cigarettes.  The majority of e-cigarette consumers use the products as a complete replacement for tobacco cigarettes, and many others use e-cigarettes to reduce the number of cigarettes they smoke. [3] These products are improving the health of their users, and could save the lives of many more smokers—provided their use is not discouraged or banned.

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%.  

Once again, please amend the definition of "smoking" in the proposed ordinance to not include the usage of smoke-free e-cigarettes. Thank you for your attention and consideration.  

Very truly yours,

Theresa A. Whitt, MD
CASAA Medical Director


1.      Laugesen M. Health New Zealand. Poster Presentation at the Society for Research on Nicotine and Tobacco conference, Dublin, April 30, 2009. 

2.      Cahn and Siegel.   Electronic cigarettes as a harm reduction strategy for tobacco control. Macmillan Publishers Ltd. 0197-5897 Journal of Public Health Policy 1–16. 

3.      Heavner K, Dunworth J, Bergen P, Nissen C, Phillips CV. Electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) as potential tobacco harm reduction products: Results of an online survey of e-cigarette users. Tobacco Harm Reduction 2010 Yearbook, Chapter 19.

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