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Thursday, June 29, 2017

New anti-smoking measures go to the Governor

Assembly adds e-cigarettes to indoor smoking ban

Image result for e-cigarette banE-cigarettes and vaporizers will join cigarettes in being banned from most indoor public places in Rhode Island under legislation that passed the General Assembly and is now headed to the governor.

The legislation (2017-S 0446Aaa, 2017-H 5821Aaa), sponsored by Senate President Dominick Ruggerio and Rep. Teresa Tanzi, adds the use of e-cigarettes, vaporizers, and similar products designed for electronic, vapor or aerosol delivery of nicotine, to the definition of “smoking” in the Public Health and Workplace Safety Act.

That 2005 law banned smoking in in nearly all enclosed areas of places that are open to the public, including private businesses, restaurants, most bars, public restrooms, athletic fields, health care facilities, shopping malls, bingo facilities, common areas of apartment buildings with more than four units and many other places.

The legislation, which cleared a final vote in the House, is meant, in part, to protect workers and the public from the effects of secondhand nicotine vapors, and to eliminate an avenue that is feeding addiction even as smoking rates are otherwise declining. In Rhode Island and nationwide, use of e-cigarettes by youth has surpassed use of conventional cigarettes.

“While cigarette smoking has been in decline for many years, the use of electronic cigarettes is increasing, especially amongst young people,” said President Ruggerio. 

“If such products are excluded from the indoor smoking ban it has the potential to send the message that these devices are safe. By adding them to the ban it makes it clear that they can be just as addictive and harmful as conventional cigarettes.”

Said Representative Tanzi (D-Dist. 34, South Kingstown, Narragansett), “Ultimately, this loophole in our smoking ban benefits only Big Tobacco as an insidious way of hooking more smokers. Many products are made with flavors and names that are an obvious attempt to appeal to kids. But they also serve as a means to feed addiction among adults.

“Most adult users of electronic cigarettes are ‘dual users,’ meaning they also smoke conventional cigarettes. Excluding electronic cigarettes from the ban allows them to use e-cigarettes all the time in places where cigarettes aren’t allowed, fueling addiction to both forms of nicotine. Including them in the indoor ban not only sends a clearer message, but also eliminates that avenue by which the tobacco companies can increase demand for their lethal products.”

E-cigarettes and similar products were not widely used in 2004 when Rhode Island’s smoking ban was enacted.

The design of the devices vary widely, but are typically metal or plastic tubes that contain a cartridge filled with a liquid that is vaporized by a battery-powered heating element.

The resulting aerosol is inhaled by users when they draw on the device, as they would a regular cigarette. The user then exhales a cloud of secondhand aerosol that includes toxins and other pollutants.

While the levels of those toxins is generally lower than those of conventional cigarettes, they can contain heavy metals, ultrafine particulate, and cancer-causing agents like acrolein, as well as flavorings whose safety has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration only for food, not for inhalation. Furthermore, they are not an FDA-approved method for quitting smoking.

The World Health Organization recommends that electronic smoking devices not be used indoors, especially in smoke-free environments, to minimize the risk to bystanders of breathing emissions and to avoid undermining the enforcement of smoke-free laws.

The legislation has the support of the Department of Health, American Lung Association, the Rhode Island Academy of Family Physicians, the New England Laborers’ Health and Safety Fund, the American Heart Association and the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids.

The legislation is cosponsored in the House by Rep. Kathleen A. Fogarty (D-Dist. 35, South Kingstown), Rep. Shelby Maldonado (D-Dist. 56, Central Falls), Rep. Jean Philippe Barros (D-Dist. 59, Pawtucket) and Rep. Edith H. Ajello (D-Dist. 1, Providence). Senate cosponsors include Sen. V. Susan Sosnowski (D-Dist. 37, New Shoreham, South Kingstown), Sen. Joshua Miller (D-Dist. 28, Cranston, Providence), Sen. Cynthia A. Coyne (D-Dist. 32, Barrington, Bristol, East Providence) and Sen. James A. Seveney (D-Dist. 11, Bristol, Portsmouth, Tiverton).