Electronic cigarettes ("e-cigs") are not popular among politicians. Several states have tried to regulate or tax the smoking alternatives in some way, and now legislators in Utah are attempting to prohibit e-cig "vaping" in the same public spaces where smoking is outlawed. The legislation (HB245) is undoubtedly meant to promote public health, but it's also unnecessary and based on junk science.
This issue has already been discussed at length, and there's no need to be too repetitive. But let's look briefly at the arguments the bill's proponents are making in favor of the public ban on e-cigs.
According to the Desert News, "Manufacturers of electronic cigarettes claim the battery-powered device is safer than cigarettes, which use tobacco. However, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, e-cigarettes contain harmful levels of nicotine." False. The amount of nicotine contained in the glycerin-based solution used in e-cigs is comparable to the amount found in traditional cigarettes. In great enough amounts, nicotine is indeed toxic. But e-cig users are unlikely to experience any harm, because that usually requires multiple sources of nicotine. The Food and Drug Administration has also cautiously concluded that the devices are safer than cigarettes.
"There is no safe level of tobacco smoke," said David Neville, spokesman for the Tobacco Prevention and Control Program at the Utah Department of Health. With tobacco cigarettes a user generally knows how much nicotine is being consumed. ... When it comes to an electronic cigarette, you just don't know ..." This is also entirely false. E-cigs contain no tobacco and give off no smoke whatsoever, as the paper admitted above. Furthermore, when consumers purchase the nicotine solution for e-cigs they have to specify the strength of the liquid. And no manufacturer offers it in strengths smokers haven't been exposed to from smoking a pack of cigarettes a day.
More to the point, a clinical trial in BMC Public Health concluded that e-cigs can help smokers reduce or eliminate their tobacco consumption "... without causing significant side effects."
E-cigs could save a lot of lives. And it's time anti-smoking advocates begin endorsing their use as a way to get smokers off tobacco, which actually does kill people.
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