Friday, December 2, 2011

Boise gets it but Boston nips it

The Consumer Advocates for Smoke-free Alternatives Association, in conjunction with Jim Longden, the owner of Vapoligy (a Boise e-cigarette store) and several Boise e-cigarette users, successfully campaigned to get truthful and accurate information about e-cigarettes to the Boise City Council members, which resulted in the exclusion of e-cigarettes from ordinances which ban "smoking in bars and private clubs, near bus stops or other transit areas, on outdoor commercial patios accessible to children or on public property, at the Grove Plaza, on 8th Street from Bannock to Main streets, within 20 feet of a City of Boise-owned building and in other public locations" and "within 20 feet of the Boise Greenbelt, except in designated areas within Ann Morrison and Julia Davis parks and the Warm Springs Golf Course."

Mr. Longden was one of several who attended the Boise City Council meeting on Novemeber 1st and his experience supports CASAA's belief that e-cigarette users who show up to these meetings can make a significant impact.

"After the meeting we were able to talk with Councilman Thomson and Adam Park, who is the Communications Director for the Mayor and City Council," said Longden. "They were both very responsive and seemed genuinely interested in seeing an eCigarette perform even to the point where Mr. Park asked me to blow vapor in his face. They both seemed truly amazed at the lack of smell and the vapor dissipating almost instantly."

"This a significant victory. With a population of over 200,000 people, Boise is now the largest city in America to remove e-cigarettes from what was purported to be 'smoking' ban," said CASAA Director Gregory Conley. Other locales that have recently considered, and then rejected, bans on e-cigarette use, include Delaware County, Indiana and Alexandria, Louisiana," said CASAA Director Greg Conley.

Meanwhile, the news isn't as positive for Boston's local vapers. CASAA issued a Call to Action alert September 21st that the Boston Public Health Commission had proposed the Clean Air Works Workplace Smoking and E-Cigarette Use Restrictions Regulation, a prohibition on the use of e-cigarettes in the workplace, which was passed by the Commission on Wednesday. Although many members headed the call, it simply wasn't enough.

"Seeking to close a loophole on unregulated products like electronic cigarettes that deliver nicotine, the Boston Public Health Commission’s Board of Health today approved a proposal to treat e-cigarettes like tobacco products, including requiring retail establishments to obtain a permit to sell them, prohibiting their use in the workplace, and restricting their sale to adults only," the BPHC website stated.

The Commission's statement is confusing, because the public use of many smokeless "tobacco products," such as snus, dissolvables and chew, is not prohibited. Therefore, the inclusion of e-cigarettes in the smoking ban is, in effect, treating e-cigarettes like tobacco cigarettes, not just as a tobacco product.

The prohibition on smoking in the workplace is argued by public health officials as necessary to protect bystanders from the "known hazards" of second-hand smoke. However, there has been no such evidence that vapor exhaled by e-cigarette users poses any risk to bystanders. In fact, researchers and even the FDA have failed to find dangerous levels of any toxins or carcinogens in e-cigarettes tested, so there is no science-based reason to suspect e-cigarettes pose a significant health risk to the user, let alone to bystanders. Absent any scientific evidence of health risks, CASAA suspects e-cigarettes are being treated like tobacco cigarettes by the BPHC based solely on how they may "look" to bystanders.

"E-cigarettes are currently in use by approximately 2.5 million adults to eliminate or significantly reduce their exposure to tobacco smoke and there have been no reports of significant adverse health effects since their introduction to the U.S. over 4 years ago," said Kristin Noll-Marsh, CASAA's vice president. "The ability to use e-cigarettes [where smoking is prohibited] is a powerful incentive to get smokers to consider switching to these reduced harm alternatives. By approving this ordinance, the Boston Health Department is sending the message to smokers that they may as well keep smoking. How is that remotely in the best interest of public health? At least Boise [City Council] got it right."
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