A public hearing was held last week by the Allegheny County Board of Health in Pittsburgh, Penn., regarding the banning of e-cigarette smoking indoors at public places because it “normalizes” the act of smoking. But many showed up to fight the proposed vaping ban.
The county law being proposed would ban the smoking of e-cigarettes indoors in public places, just like regular cigarettes, as suggested by the Clean Indoor Air Act. The ban would restrict use at establishments that serve food and drink, and places with children present younger than 18.
“Exercise became possible. I lost 100 pounds,” said 21-year-old Ryan Huntermark, speaking in support of vaping. He said that thanks to e-cigarettes, he kicked his smoking habit that started when he was 14. When he began vaping last year as an alternative to smoking traditional cigarettes, he claims his health greatly improved.
E-cigarettes consist of vaping liquid, which contains nicotine and other chemicals, often including diacetyl, a chemical that has been heavily linked to bronchiolitis obliterans. It is a serious lung disease where the smallest airways become blocked by scar tissue. The disease, better known as “popcorn lung,” is only treatable by lung transplant.
Michelle Hall, vape shop owner, wasn’t happy about the proposed ban. “There’s been an assault on our livelihood,” she said. “We believe it is a person’s right to vape.” Hall added that minors shouldn’t be encouraged to vape. She suggested an alternative: banning minors in vape shops.
Dr. Brian Primack, a University of Pittsburgh professor of medicine, cited a recent study claiming that vaping teens are six times more likely to smoke tobacco later.
Health policy director for Allies for Children, Erika Fricke, also spoke at the hearing with concern about children’s secondhand exposure to vaping liquids. “We use a precautionary principle in children’s health,” she said. “We should protect children before that exposure.”
Ms. Fricke also expressed concern about exposing children to smoking behavior. “Nicotine is addictive. Children will see it as normal. … Kids don’t see adults smoking around them. That’s not the case with e-cigarettes.”
The vote regarding the proposed ban will be held at the Board of Health November meeting.
Source: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette