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Ban e-cigs from workplaces

Published: 7/26/14 @ 12:00


Appleton (Wisc.) Post-Crescent: There’s a lot we don’t know about electronic cigarettes. There’s even a lot the Food and Drug Administration doesn’t know about them.

The FDA has proposed regulations that would set an age limit for buying them and require them to have a warning label about nicotine addiction. The agency also has done a study that found half of the e-cigarettes tested contained cancer-causing substances.

Here in Wisconsin, we have a ban on selling them to minors, enacted in 2012. The state also has an indoor workplace ban on tobacco cigarettes — and a question about whether it should include e-cigarettes.

Based on what we know about them — and more on what we don’t know about them — the ban should be expanded to include e-cigarettes.

Billed as an alternative to tobacco cigarettes, especially for those trying to quit smoking, e-cigarettes are devices that have a battery and an atomizer. They heat liquid that’s infused with nicotine and users inhale the vapors.

What’s in them varies — and ingredients aren’t required on their labels. So, whether those ingredients are harmful to users is a mystery.

That’s a problem for users but — like using tobacco or many other harmful but legal substances — it’s the user’s choice.

Second-hand vapor

But what kinds of vapors are released into the air around users — call it second-hand vapor — is a public problem. And that’s just as much of a mystery.

As Wendy Vander Zanden, executive director of Community Action for Healthy Living, told Post-Crescent Media, “We don’t know what people are being exposed to. It’s probably cleaner (than cigarette smoke), but when we compare it to clean air, there’s a huge difference.”


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