Pennsylvania’s indoor smoking ban could expand to electronic cigarette users if a proposed amendment to the Clean Indoor Air Act is passed. The House of Representatives Health Committee held a meeting Monday to discuss closing loophole exemptions under the act as well as extending the smoking ban to casinos, hotel rooms, private clubs, bars, and patios at drinking or food establishments.
“Unfortunately the law was riddled with holes and in this case, exemptions,” said Rep.Tom Murt, R-Montgomery County, the proposal’s sponsor. “The law contained over a dozen exemptions including sections of casino floors, hotel rooms, private clubs, and drinking establishments with less than 20 percent in food sales. Presently, Pennsylvania’s Clean Indoor Air Act contains more exemptions than any other neighbouring state.”
Electronic cigarettes similarly would be banned in those scenarios as well. “We’re learning everyday that second-hand smoke or even smoking a vapor cigarette itself has tremendous potential for harm,” said Dr. Mubashir Mumtaz, chief of cardiovascular and thoracic surgery with PinnacleHealth CardioVascular. “There are studies out there that show second-hand smoke from these cigarettes are also harmful.”
Dianne Phillips, Pennsylvania government relations director for the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN), said that the organization supports including all electronic smoking devices into the anti-smoking laws. “Eliminating public use of e-cigarettes will help to prevent the tobacco industry from using these devices to create a new smoking norm,” Phillips said, while also noting that e-cigarette use amongst high school students has tripled.
Phillips said that even though some studies have shown that e-cigarettes can cause short-term lung changes, irritations, and can contain heavy metals or other dangerous chemicals, the long-term health consequences aren’t entirely clear. “There are serious questions about the safety of inhaling e-cigarette aerosol,” Phillips said. “Studies are continually coming out that there needs to be more thorough, independent testing on e-cigarettes.”
Gregory Conley, president of the American Vaping Association (AVA), attributes his 5-year smoke-free success to e-cigarettes and that it can help traditional smokers transition away from regular cigarettes. “A favorite tactic of vapor product detractors is to make references to scary sounding chemicals that have been detected in vapor product liquids or vapors,” Conley said. “Currently, they fail to note the actual level of these chemicals that have been found. In doing so, they ignore the central tenet of toxicology for about 500 hundred years: the dose makes the poison.”
Conley explained that while individuals who use vapor products don’t necessarily have the right to vape where they please, businesses should be able to set their own policies as there’s no conclusive evidence the vapor would hurt bystanders. “Its akin to putting the steak on the grill, turning the heat up, letting it sit there for five hours, and then testing that steak for carcinogenic particles, and saying ‘well, you shouldn’t eat steak because it’s full of carcinogens.’ It’s misleading and harmful to public health,” Conley said.
Conley also noted he was concerned that the new amendment if not adjusted to exempt e-cigarettes could deter current smokers from smoke-free alternatives. “Vapor products are our best hope yet to get millions of American smokers to quit inhaling burning smoke into their lungs on a daily basis,” Conley said. View full article
Madison Russ (15 June 2015) Opinions clash on expanding indoor smoking ban to e-cigarettes [news]. Retrieved from http://tinyurl.com/plr6oym