Monday, January 19, 2015

CASAA Call to Action: Montgomery Co., Maryland - Indoor Use Ban




(Update - 1/23/15) - There was no vote taken on this ordinance during Thursday night's meeting. At this time, we are gathering information and will provide an update as details emerge. A Health and Human Services Committee work session is currently scheduled for 1/29/15.
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On November 25th, 2014, Montgomery County Council Vice President Leventhal and Council members Floreen, Branson, and Navarro introduced Bill 56-14.  A hearing is scheduled for Thursday, January 22nd, 2015 before Montgomery County Council at 7:30 PM. *If you plan to testify, you must sign up by 10:00 AM on the 22nd.  The location is Council Office Building, 100 Maryland Avenue, 5th Floor, Rockville, MD 20850.


If enacted, this bill would:
  • Prohibit the use of electronic cigarettes in most public places (vape shops are exempted)
    • In general, and given the lack of evidence that would suggest e-cigarette use may be harmful to bystanders, CASAA feels that business owners should have the right to set their own “vaping policy.”  **Please see the talking points below.


  • Require child-resistant packaging of liquid nicotine containers
    • Although CASAA is generally supportive of child-resistant packaging, this issue would be more appropriate for federal lawmakers.  Enacting packaging laws at the county level, let alone at the state level, presents a potential hurdle for interstate commerce and may impact consumer choice.  If Montgomery Co. Council must pursue this measure, it should clearly be in line with federal standards.


  • Prohibit the use of electronic cigarettes by minors
    • It should be noted that legislation (SB 7) has been introduced at the state level to ban sales of e-cigarettes to minors.  CASAA supports prohibiting sales to minors.


This bill can be salvaged.  Maryland residents have already defeated similar indoor use bans at the State level in both 2010 and 2014 (bills died in committee), as well as at the municipal levels in Prince Georges County in 2013 (in the form of tabling the bill) and in Baltimore City in 2014 (in the form of a compromise).






**What to say:


1.  You are a Montgomery County- DC  metro-area or Maryland resident and while you support bans on sales to minors, you oppose banning e-cigarette use where smoking is prohibited. (If you are responding to this Local Alert and are not a state resident, please mention any connection you have to the area, for example, you travel to Montgomery County on business, vacation or have friends/family in the area.)
2.  Tell your story on how switching to an e-cigarette has changed your life.  
3.  Clarify that:


a.  Smoking bans are enacted to protect the public from the harm of secondhand smoke, but e-cigarettes have not been found to pose a risk to bystanders. In fact, all evidence to date shows that the low health risks associated with e-cigarettes are comparable to other smokeless nicotine products.


b.  The low risks of e-cigarettes is supported by research done by Dr. Siegel of Boston University, Dr. Eissenberg of Virginia Commonwealth, Dr Maciej L Goniewicz of the Roswell Park Cancer Institute, Dr. Laugesen of Health New Zealand, Dr. Igor Burstyn of Drexel University, and by the fact that the FDA testing, in spite of its press statement, failed to find harmful levels of carcinogens or toxic levels of any chemical in the vapor.


c.  A comprehensive review conducted by Dr. Igor Burstyn of Drexel University School of Public Health based on over 9,000 observations of e-cigarette liquid and vapor found "no apparent concern" for bystanders exposed to e-cigarette vapor, even under "worst case" assumptions about exposure.


d.  Electronic cigarette use is easy to distinguish from actual smoking. Although some e-cigarettes resemble real cigarettes, many do not. It is easy to tell when someone lights a cigarette from the smell of smoke. E-cigarette vapor is practically odorless, and generally any detectable odor is not unpleasant and smells nothing like smoke. Additionally, e-cigarette users can decide whether to release any vapor ("discreet vaping").  With so little evidence of use, enforcing use bans on electronic cigarettes would be nearly impossible.


e.  The ability to use electronic cigarettes in public spaces will actually improve public health by inspiring other smokers to switch and reduce their health risks by an estimated 99%.

4.  Direct them to the CASAA.org website, as well as the CASAA Research Library, for more information.

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