Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Local Alert - Allegheny Co., PA - Take action to oppose an indoor vaping ban

Allegheny Co., PA

(Update - 11.17.16)

The proposed ban on vaping indoors in Allegheny County has passed the Board of Health and now moves on to the County Council for consideration. The next scheduled council meeting will be held on
5:00 PM
Allegheny County Courthouse
4th Floor - Gold Room

Please make plans to attend this hearing. Even though we are not certain if the vaping ban bill will be on the agenda, it is vital that Allegheny County vapers become engaged now with county lawmakers by taking this opportunity to express opposition to this bill. You can find talking points to develop your testimony here. If you wish to speak, you will need to fill out a request to comment in advance of the meeting.

Please also take a moment to send a message to county councilors urging them to oppose an indoor vaping ban.

Take Action - Send a Message

(Update - 08.17.16)

On Monday, August 15th, the Allegheny Co. Board of Health held a hearing regarding a countywide ban on vaping in workplaces and other public indoor spaces. According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and those that showed up to testify,

“...the legislation, which essentially would restrict the use of vapor devices to spaces where tobacco cigarettes can be smoked, is pretty much being met with a collective shrug from the e-cigarette community. As of Friday, only 10 people — some pro, some con — had signed up to speak at the hearing.”

Even if you were unable to make it to this hearing, you still have an opportunity to submit a comment to the department of health. The public comment period will run until August 22nd, 2016, 5:00PM.

Take Action - Send a Comment

Please make sure to include your story about how vaping has benefitted your life (see writing tips below). Encourage your friends and family to send comments as well.

To view the proposals please visit

To comment on the proposals, please send an email to
(See talking points below)

(Update - 07.21.16)

On Wednesday, July 13th, 2016, the Allegheny Co. Health Department (ACHD) held a hearing regarding ordinances that would regulate where electronic cigarettes can be used. The department received over 400 correspondences from county residents who are opposed to this regulation. There were no letters in support.

The ACHD moved to post the anti-vaping proposals on their site for review and public comment. The public comment period will run until August 22nd, 2016, 5:00PM.

In advance of the public hearing (below) and until the comment period ends, it is vital that Allegheny County residents submit comments opposing this ordinance.

Take Action - Send a Comment

Please make sure to include your story about how vaping has benefitted your life (see writing tips below). Encourage your friends and family to send comments as well.

A public hearing has been scheduled to take testimony on the proposed vaping regulations:

Allegheny County Courthouse
Fourth Floor - Gold Room
436 Grant Street
Pittsburgh, PA

To view the proposals please visit

To comment on the proposals, please send an email to
(See talking points below)

To schedule oral testimony:

Calls or emails regarding testimony must be received by Sunday, August 14th, 1:00PM.
  • Speakers will be limited to three minutes and should bring a written copy of their comments.
  • Individuals who request to speak in advance of the hearing will be afforded an earlier time to speak.

(Writing Tip #1) If you have a lot to say, please craft your email in a separate word doc and then copy/paste it into the field provided.  If you take too long, they system will time out and you will lose your work.
(Writing Tip #2) Although we've provided a prewritten email with compelling talking points, we would strongly encourage you to edit the email because personalized communications to legislators are far more persuasive than form letters.  At a minimum, PLEASE INCLUDE YOUR PERSONAL STORY (just a few sentences) in the text of your email.

(Original Post - 07.09.16)

The Allegheny Board of Health (BOH) will be meeting to discuss an ordinance that would ban vaping in the same places where smoking is currently prohibited -- possibly including vapor shops -- on:

Wednesday, July 13th, 2016
12:30 PM
ACHD Conference Room
542 Fourth Ave.
Pittsburgh, PA 15219

Please take action NOW by sending an email urging the BOH to reconsider this anti-harm reduction policy.

Take Action - Send an Email

Please make plans to attend the July 13 BOH meeting. If you wish to speak, you must send a request to or by phone at 412-687-2243 requesting to “speak on the proposed vaping ban.” We have provided talking points for speaking below.

**Please note**, speaking time will be limited to 3 minutes and requests to speak must be made before July 12th, 2016, 12:30 PM.

If you sign up to speak at the July 13th BOH meeting, please contact Bill Godshall (Smokefree PA) before the meeting to coordinate.

Bill Godshall
Executive Director
Smokefree Pennsylvania
1926 Monongahela Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15218

Suggested Talking Points - Place Ban
  • (Please choose a few of the points below -- topics you are most comfortable discussing.)

  1. You are a resident and you oppose banning e-cigarette use where smoking is prohibited. (If you are responding to a Call to Action or Local Alert for a city or state in which you are not a resident, please mention any connection you have to the area, for example, you travel there on vacation or have friends/family in the area.)

  1. Other governments are taking exactly the opposite approach; Public Health England (the government public health agency) and The Royal College of Physicians (a 500 year old association of 32,000 medical professionals in the UK) recently explicitly endorsed a policy of encouraging smokers to switch to e-cigarettes and vapor products ( (

  1. Tell your story on how switching to an e-cigarette has changed your life. (Avoid using slang terms such as "juice.")

  1. Clarify that:
    1. Smoking bans are ostensibly 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.
    2. 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.
    3. 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.
    4. 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 often 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.
    5. 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%.
    6. Losing the ability to test e-liquids before purchasing will have a significant and negative impact on your ability to purchase/sell e-liquids.
    7. Many smokers first try e-cigarettes because they can use them where they cannot smoke, however, they often become "accidental quitters." This is a documented phenomenon unique to e-cigarettes. It may take a few months or only a few days, but they inevitably stop smoking conventional cigarettes. This is why including e-cigarettes in smoking bans could have serious unintended consequences!
    8. By making e-cigarette users go outdoors, the City will also be sending a strong message to traditional smokers that e-cigarettes are no safer than smoking. This will actually maintain the number of smokers, rather than help reduce smoking. This is a far more realistic risk to public health than any unfounded concerns about possible youth or non-smoker use uptake. In fact, the most recent report by the CDC showed that the dramatic increase in e-cigarette use over that past 3 years has not led to an increase in youth smoking. Youth smoking of traditional cigarettes continues to decline to record low levels.
    9. The children of smoking parents are far more likely to become smokers than the children of non-smoking parents who see smoking behaviors in public. The children of smoking parents who quit aren't any more likely to smoke than those of non-smoking parents. Prohibiting vapor products in public does little to protect the children of non-smoking parents from becoming smokers, but significantly increases the likelihood that many smoking parents won't switch to e-cigarettes. This only serves to keep the highest-risk children at risk.
    10. E-cigarette use does not promote the smoking of traditional cigarettes, nor does it threaten the gains of tobacco control over the past few decades. In fact, by normalizing e-cigarette use over traditional smoking, the efforts of tobacco control are being supported. If anything, e-cigarette use denormalizes conventional smoking by setting the example of smokers choosing a far less harmful alternative to traditional smoking. The CDC surveys clearly show that there has been no "gateway effect" causing non-smokers to start smoking. As e-cigarettes have become more popular, all available evidence is showing that more and more smokers are quitting traditional cigarettes, including youth smokers.
    11. Important Note: A typical and frequent lawmaker response to e-cigarette users who object to public use bans is "We aren't banning all use or sales, just use where smoking is also prohibited." Don't give them the opportunity to counter you in that way! Make it very clear that you understand that this is not a ban of e-cigarette sales or a ban of e-cigarette use where smoking is allowed. But, what IS being proposed is still a step backward in public health, not a step forward.

5) Direct them to the website, as well as the CASAA Research Library, for more information.

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