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Health Department backs off total ban on e-cigarettes

Post by John Henrikson / The News Tribune on May 31, 2011 at 11:25 am with 18 Comments »
May 31, 2011 12:58 pm

After hearing from the public about its proposed ban on e-cigarettes in all public places in the county, the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department has backed off – at least slightly.

At its meeting Wednesday, the Board of Health will consider a revised regulation that would still ban “vaping” in many public places, but would make exceptions for “public places where minors are lawfully prohibited, places of employment that are not public places and retail outlets that exclusively sell or promote electronic smoking devices.”

In a press release on its website, the department acknowledges the comments from vapers who use the e-cigarettes as a way to quit or cut down on smoking.

We still believe there is a lack of hard data to assure the public that e-cigarettes are safe for the user and bystanders, but at the same time we acknowledge that there is a similar lack of data that they are in fact harmful. While the scientific and regulatory communities will surely examine the safety of e-cigarettes for many years, we feel it is still appropriate to advance regulations that prudently protect the public from a risk that is not fully quantified.

The department still recommends a total ban on sales of e-cigarettes to minors.

Read on to view the full press release from the Health Department.

The Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department’s mission is to safeguard and enhance the health of the communities of Pierce County. As part of its mission, the Health Department tackles emerging health risks through policy, programs and treatment in order to protect public health.

On May 4, 2011, the Health Department commenced a public process to collect feedback on two pieces of proposed tobacco regulations. This is the same process used to seek community input and provide it to the Board of Health before any regulations are implemented. For this matter, input was received via email, an online form and at the public meetings that took place on May 16 and 18, 2011.

The community was actively engaged in the issue, focusing primarily on the proposed e-cigarette regulations. We are very pleased with the level of engagement from the community, and appreciate the public discourse that has taken place thus far. Several themes emerged from the public feedback. They are:

* As a whole, the community agrees with and appreciates the changes implemented as a result of the Smoking in Public Places law enacted in 2005. They appreciate that dangerous secondhand smoke is no longer present in public places, both for health and aesthetic reasons, and support the proposed Chapter 8 regulations.

* Generally, the public agrees with the provision of Chapter 9 regulating the sale to and use of e-cigarettes by minors. Overwhelmingly, commentators stated that e-cigarettes are used primarily by adults trying to quit a smoking habit.

* Most of the commentators shared personal stories about e-cigarettes and how they have contributed to their success at quitting smoking or dramatically reducing the amount of cigarettes that they smoke. Due to their personal success, they feel that banning e-cigarettes in public places counteracts and interrupts their current success, and possibly discourages other smokers from attempting to quit.

The Health Department staff and leadership listened carefully to the feedback and took it into consideration. We still believe there is a lack of hard data to assure the public that e-cigarettes are safe for the user and bystanders, but at the same time we acknowledge that there is a similar lack of data that they are in fact harmful. While the scientific and regulatory communities will surely examine the safety of e-cigarettes for many years, we feel it is still appropriate to advance regulations that prudently protect the public from a risk that is not fully quantified.

However, as a result of the feedback we received, we believe it is appropriate to modify the original proposed e-cigarette regulation to allow the use of e-cigarettes in the following places:

* Public places where minors are lawfully prohibited,

* Places of employment that are not public places, and

* Retail outlets that exclusively sell or promote electronic smoking devices

Review the full regulation.

Over the next two years, we will continue to gauge public concern over e-cigarette use, available scientific data and information about the production and marketing of e-cigarettes. We will provide the Board of Health with a report on these issues so that they can reconsider this regulation in two years or earlier, if new evidence is found.

We are pleased at the outcome of the process, and believe the proposed regulation advances the health of the people of Pierce County. These two proposed regulations are scheduled for discussion and a vote at the June 1 Board of Health meeting.

Leave a comment Comments → 18
  1. michael akers says:

    heres an idea why dont you ban cars just the fumes from one car equals all the smoke from those cigarettess combined Ha bunch of moronic paper pushers stay the hell out of peoples bussiness

  2. APimpNamedSlickback says:

    So, hypothetically, what happens in two years when hard scientific data is available that establishes not only that e-cigarettes are an effective method of quitting smoking, but that they are also 100% non-harmful. Will the Health Department back off entirely and suggest that any and all prohibitions against vaping be rescinded, including the sale to and use by minors? Or will they simply ignore that data?

  3. Tacoma politicians and government agencies are soooo stupid. Thats all I have to say about this.

  4. Ankleface says:

    Finding new ways to smoke is not moving in the right direction, people. It’s disgusting no matter how you package it, and the only people who tolerate smokers/vapers are other smokers/vapers. Do it in your own space and keep it out of ours.

  5. Ban them to minors and MOVE ON.

  6. Does anyone notice all the vapor leaking from that girls face? Oh the humanity.

  7. steilacoomtaxpayer says:

    Amy “that girl” is about 45 and looks real dumb with that thing in her face and a cloud of, well, who knows what.

  8. lovethemountains says:

    So now our nannies have a new way to exercise their powers. We don’t know if (choose your action or inaction here) is harmful but let’s make a law or pass a resolution against just in case.

    Seems to me this is an indication that the nannies really don’t have all that much to do if they sit around their meeting tables thinking up new ways to control us.

  9. I smoked tobacco for fifteen years. Patches, gum, lozenges, cinnamon sticks, you name it, I tried it, all failures. Three months ago I began using a vaporizer, and I am now down to one tobacco cigarette daily, or none at all. Not only is my Vape delicious (chocolate brownie is my favorite flavor), but it has also saved me countless dollars,cleaning up nasty ashtrays, and likely saved me from years of suffering from complications from tobacco smoking.. Because it is a nicotine delivery system, I think they should stay out of the hands of minors, otherwise, give Vaping a break Pierce county!

  10. CASAA has written another letter regarding their stance on the newly proposed regulation and has sent it directly to the Pierce County Health Department. Please feel free to join us at 2:45pm on June 1 at the Tacoma Pierce County Health Department located at 3629 S Dst Tacoma. We will all be meeting afterward at Cheers on S 26th and Pacific Ave. We look forward to seeing you all there! Thanks, Kim

    To read the letter sent by CASAA, see the link below.


  11. mattzuke says:

    This change reads that proponents have scientific evidence to support their position that e-cigarettes pose no risk to bystanders, but because it looks like smoking and the risk of kids seeing it they would rather smokers get cancer and die than permit vapers using their freedom of speech to present an alternative.

    The fear is second hand nicotine exposure, and they have at their disposal 40 years of research including the evidence provided to establish the smoking ban in the first place. Not to speak of the FDA specifically approves of nicotine as a general purpose insecticide at concentrations up to 40%. To put into perspective this is 16 times the concentration of e-fluid, and given studies show 98% is absorbed by the user, even if you lock lips with the user, the exposure is 2000 times less than what the FDA considers to be safe.

    The rest, excluding aroma, is standard chemicals, mainly water, propylene glycol and vegetable glycerin. They are approved by the FDA, specifically for inhalation and have a track record for safety for 60 years. They are the major component in air sanitizers including glade plug ins, which unlike e-cigarettes are not made with pharmaceutical materials. Fog machines are considered safe despite them using industrial grade materials with a higher concentration of DEG permitted, and thousands of times what a user will use per day.

    The only objective risk is me speaking to a kid and telling them that as an adult, I have to pretend to smoke to not smoke and the reality is smoking is actually worse than what we can presently quantify.

  12. I’m not sure that they will ever be found 100% non-harmful. I mean nicotine is an addictive substance and the FDA is not exactly in favor of them (for various reasons).

    There are some safety studies done by the FDA, the industry and Boston University at http://www-e-cigsmoker.com

    Overall, I am betting that they are safer and have been using them for a year and couldn’t be happier!

  13. It all boils down to money. Lots and lots of money coming from us tobacco addicts. Vaping is a threat to those dollars and that’s all that’s behind it. If not, given the fact that tobacco is PROVEN deadly, IT would’ve been banned years ago. Too much money to lose there so that will never happen. They don’t care about your health. Like any other governmental agency, its all money and nothing else. The FDA won’t find e-cigarrettes anything resembling “safe” either, or rather AS safe as they really are. There has to be enough of a risk there to allow them to be legislated enough to get them taxed just as much as tobacco is, so they can get their hands on the money. They will NEVER be “officially” classified as a smoking cessation device either, even though through personal experience and reading countless testamonials from others, it would seem that they very likely are. Can’t have that ever happen because there’s more money in classifying them as tobacco products and putting them under the same legislation and tax as tobacco, than there is in classifying them as a drug. It’s all about the money people. Always has been, always will be. Tobacco is a known killer and it’s not completely banned. Alcohol kills and ruins lives of even those who do not use it. It’s perfectly legal. It’s not about your health. Its about power and money. So we can enjoy what we have while we have it, but expect it to be banned or be taxed to the point that you can’t afford it. Why? Bottom line it is not AS addictive as tobacco because the chemicals in tobacco to make tobacco more addictive aren’t in the e-liquids and won’t be until the people who make it start supporting politicians like the tobacco companies STILL do. Not as addictive, not as many people using it and therefore, not enough money for these rich bastards who don’t give a damn about you or the country or anything but getting richer. I agree with legislation to forbid minors from using e-cigarettes, but not other than that. Anything else is just these rich bastards that we CONTINUE to elect to public office, looking for their money.

  14. Banning Electronic Cigarettes Would Be Very Stupid. I have not smoked tobacco in 2 months thanks with the help of these devices. And, I am down to an occasional few puffs a day with the E-Cigs! I feel like it is saving my life and I feel healther!

  15. mattzuke says:

    Well I was just reading Casaa’s site and noted that RJ Reynolds has been taking advantage of the smoking ban in New York promoting their Snus product.


    I find it hard to believe Snus is safer than e-cigs, but if the TPCHD vote yes on indoor ban on e-cigs would make TOBACCO in the MOUTH the only legal viable option. And don’t say the patch, gum, or lossage. They’re proven in study after study to be ineffective at promoting cessation for over 90% of smokers.

  16. I seem to remember the same arguments throughout the years on how the studies on tobacco were inconclusive. They warned that there was no proof that second hand smoke was not harmful and there were actually ads claiming that one brand of cigarette was healthier than others. Lower tar and nicotine in “Light” cigarettes are better for you, etc.
    ANYTHING that you ingest into your body, whether chocolate brownie flavored, or not, has a potential side effect to the body itself. Especially if absorbed through direct transport such as via the lung.
    You would do yourself a favor and avoid years of painful suffering if you were to suck on your car’s exhaust continually. Either way, you are headed for the same result. More money for tobacco growers and corporations, richer doctors and more health care dollars sucked up to pay for the “choices” of a few idiotic morons that just don’t understand that their “choices on how better to kill themselves affect all of us.

  17. mattzuke says:

    “I seem to remember the same arguments throughout the years on how the studies on tobacco were inconclusive.”

    Because they actually WERE inconclusive. It took a large body of evidence to demonstrate the link between tobacco SMOKE and cancer, emphysema, etc… etc. And since cash crops like tobacco were partly responsible for founding of America, it took a large body of evidence to justify the economic damage as a result of legislation. Not to speak of scientific study requires controls, and 500 ingredients combusted to form 5000 compounds, it took decades of study to find 50 carcinogenic ones. In fact it’s from THOSE studies that we can establish the relative safety of e-cigarettes. In 2005 it was established that nicotine was not a factor that impacted air quality, the FDA still approves of nicotine as a general purpose insecticide at concentrations up to 40%, used by the gallon. This is 15 times higher than a “high” e-cartridge, at thousands of times less the volume, putting the exposure 2000x less than what the FDA considers to be safe if you perform mouth to mouth. This exposure is less than you would get from one serving of egg plant, one serving of catsup. But insecticides are okay, but the same thing at .05% the concentration at the source, is not.

    Propylene Glycol and vegetable glycerin are also approved by the FDA specifically for inhalation and carries a HMIS health rating is 0. Compare to a Glade Plugin which consumes 27 times the power, and uses Isoparaffinic compounds rather than PG or VG, has a HMIS health rating of 2, moderate health risk. Not to speak of fog machines that use industrial grade Propylene Glycol by the gallon consuming thousands of watt hours, vs an average e-cig from an average user at 4.5wh/day. Paraffin candles are even combusted are okay, as are glade plug ins, and fog machines. But something that carries carries a HMIS health rating of 0 is not.

    Leaving only aroma and water, which again, are FDA approved.

    All objective reality suggests this product is safer for by-standards than products we are exposed on a daily bases. And let’s not even get started on spray paint.

  18. mattzuke says:

    “ANYTHING that you ingest into your body, whether chocolate brownie flavored, or not, has a potential side effect to the body itself. Especially if absorbed through direct transport such as via the lung.”

    Funny you should bring up chocolate, since big and indy tobacco have been using chocolate for CENTURIES. Nicotine is quite bitter, thus additives are employed to “mellow” out the smoke. Sugar, coco, butter fat, just to name a few, which are combusted and inhaled. Over 500 ingredients go into a tobacco cig, which is then COMBUSTED to form 5000, with tar, carbon monoxide, free base nicotine, 50 carcinogens, and more chemicals than I can even remember.

    Smokers already consume chocolate, thus it’s reasonable for there to be chocolate flavor in e-juice. Now the long term health impact of this requires further study, but the important question is does it present the same health impact as smoking. For by-standards, the FDA already considers these to be safe, safe for use in candles, in baking, to be smelled.

    To date, FDA approved NRPs are only 10% effective after 9 months, 7% after 24. E-cigarettes don’t need to be 100% safe, only as safe as products bystanders are already exposed to, and safer than cigarettes, and even the FDA study shows that the risk of e-cigs is equal or less than that of existing NRPs, including the NICOTROL┬« inhaler. Thus a product that carries with it 99% less risk than another activity, and is the only means of mitigating a destructive habit, the risk is acceptable. And early studies show 70% cigarette cessation after two weeks.

    Further more, the fact that FDA approved NRPs are so ineffective, and studies on teen recreational use of NRPs suggest that nicotine outside of the delivery method of the cigarette is not life long habit forming. Thus the willpower of the user of the e-cig, as well as maintaining the hand to mouth habit, would seem to be the key in an effective NRP. As such, e-cigs already have contributed to the sum of human knowledge on cigarette addition. However to get FDA approval, they are a Cigarette Replacement Product.

    If you want to use a CRP in a cessation program, that’s up to you. There are e-fluids in graduated nicotine levels, and in fact reFindVapor in Tacoma offers solutions x 6mg increments.

    Further study is indicated as far as e-cigs role in cessation. However NO study is needed to observe the economic damage e-cigs cause big tobacco. As indicated, there are only 5 ingredients, all over the counter FDA approved food or pharmaceutical grade material. In fact the FDA study demonstrates most e-fluids tested use a higher grade material than over the counter NRPs. In any case, 5 ingredients makes for easier scientific study.

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