At the King County Board of Health meeting today we voted to regulate this new world of electronic cigarettes much like we regulate the world of old-fashioned cigarettes. No selling e-cigs to minors, no distributing coupons for free e-cigs via the mail, and (with some controversy) no using e-cigs in places you can’t use conventional smokes.
Several people emailed me a few came to testify before the vote that e-cigs help them and their loved ones avoid inhaling all the carcinogens associated with tobacco cigarettes. Some argue that e-cigs can be a “harm reduction” tool for smokers who just can’t quit. That seemed a compelling reason to not ban e-cigs totally, although, several countries have done so. Instead we focused on keeping e-cigs out of the hands of minors and on not backsliding on the decades-long effort to keep cigarette smoking from appearing normal and cool. The “no vaping in public places” has garnered the most opposition and an amendment to strike that prohibition from the legislation failed on a close vote. It may very well be that the vapor people exhale when using e-cigs is harmless, but the Food & Drug Administration hasn’t done formal testing of the devices yet. Even if second-hand vape proves to be harmless, the image of people smoking comfortably, even if it’s a ceramic vaporizer fashioned to look like a regular cigarette, isn’t something we want coming back into fashion.
Having said that, I don’t have a great answer for the vapers forced outside to vape. If I were them I wouldn’t want to hang out with the smokers 25 feet from the door.
On another note, the disposable e-cigs come with a lithium or other style of battery contained inside. Proper disposal of these would be nice after people have exhausted the advertised 30 puffs. These shouldn’t just go to landfill.