King County prohibit public e-cigarette use

Published on January 13th, 2011 11:08

Five years ago citizens of Washington voted to prohibit smoking of all kinds of tobacco products in all public venues. Now King County is eager to include one more thing to ban: electronic cigarettes.

According to the law implemented in 2006, smoking was prohibited in all indoor public places since environmental tobacco smoke triggers cancer and other severe health complications. However King County’s basis for including electronic cigarettes – battery-operated devices that deliver vaporized nicotine – to the list of prohibited products is a little different.

ban cigarettes

The electronic cigarettes, that deliver liquid nicotine, don’t produce smoke, but emit an odorless mist.

Public health authorities state that e-cigarettes are so similar to the ordinary cigarettes that they prompt tobacco enforcement to be more complicated difficult and even encourage smokers to believe that it is normal to puff in public places. And the latter results in second-hand smoke, health authorities claim.

“We think that even despite electronic cigarettes are not identical to ordinary things, when people see someone using e-cigs, they believe that it’s OK to smoke,” admitted Bud Nicola, member of King County Health Board of Health and professor of Public Health at the University of Washington. The Board of Health is expected to discuss the introduced measure and vote on it next week. The measure as well includes limiting the sales of electronic cigarettes to adolescents and banning large discounts and free samples of these products.

Frequently advertised as “healthy alternative to smoking” or a quit-smoking tool, electronic cigarettes have become a concerning and controversial matter for public health professionals. Several weeks ago a court ruled against the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), saying that the agency is not able to regulate electronic cigarettes as drug-delivery devices.

Under a report by Public Health Board of King County, the Food and Drug Agency had discovered toxic substances in a sample of electronic cig, including cancer-causing agents nitrosamines and diethylene glycol. The agency as well discovered the devices contained a shockingly wide range of nicotine amounts.

Despite most e-cigarette manufacturers state their products contain no nicotine, the federal regulators admit that can’t be known for sure.
Although electronic cigarettes can be bought in many convenience stores and are growing in popularity, public health groups are concerned that that they can serve as “gateway” for cigarette smoking for minors. Several organizations carried out undercover operations and found that sellers of e-cigs were selling their products to teenagers who attempted to purchase them.

Whereas the FDA examines its options related to electronic cigarettes, Mr. Nikola stated it is vital for local health department to protect people from potential risks of unapproved products. He said that they would also consider a ban on other unregulated nicotine delivery devices, like nicotine water, candy and wafers.

In case King County’s proposal is approved, it would be the most stringent measure in the nation. Several states already introduced some e-cigarette regulations, but none of them as thorough as introduced here.

By Joanna Johnson, Staff Writer. Copyright © 2011 All rights reserved.

Related tags: tobacco regulation | smoke-free place | e-cigarette | cigarette use | usa

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