On Wednesday, December 4, 2013, New York city had a hearing for a bill to include e-cigarettes (referred to as e-cigs) in the Clean Indoor Air Act which prohibits smoking in public places. Both sides were able to voice their opinion of the issue. Vaping celebrities, Russ Wishtart, host of “Click Bang” radio on Vaper’s Place, Greg Conley, and Jenee Fowler, known as “Vape Girl” on Youtube were present at the meeting. There were many vapers present in the audience to show support for vaping and opposition of the inclusion of e-cigs in the smoking ban. Yesterday, the council unanimously voted in favor of the bill. As vapers, we know vaping has improved our health. I have personally introduced friends and family to vaping, and all of them have said how much better they feel after converting from combustible tobacco to an e-cig. Jenee Fowler remarked that vaping in public has introduced her (and many smokers) to how effective e-cigs can be in their attempts to stop smoking and relapsing to combustible cigarettes. The Anti-Nicotine and Tobacco Zealots (referred to as ANTZ) have common arguments we need to address whenever a ban on e-cig use in public is placed in any of the state and local jurisdictions across the United States. You can view the entire hearing on Mandycat Campbell’s Youtube page. It is four hours long, so it’s divided into five parts. You can find it here to watch in your leisure:
Throughout the entire hearing, seven points were continuously brought up by the ANTZ. These are the points with rebuttals to their claim:
“We can’t trust the Tobacco Industry.”
A representative for Blu Ecigs, as well as Logic and NJoy brands testified at the meeting. Blu Ecigs was the only company that is part of the Tobacco Industry on the panel. NJoy and Logic are independent e-cig companies. ANTZ complain that advertisements mimic ads of combustible cigarettes, and BT are using these ads to peddle their products to youth. ANTZ claim this industry was started by BT to hook the children and adult non-smokers to a lifelong addiction to nicotine.
E-cigs were not part of the Tobacco industry until 2012 when Lorillard (makers of NewPorts) bought Blu Ecigs. E-cigs were invented in 2003 by a Chinese pharmacist, named Hon Lik, who invented it to help his father who was dying of lung cancer. E-cigs were first made available in the U.S. in 2009, which means this fledgling industry was created by smokers who wanted a way to enjoy the act of smoking without the harm. Big Tobacco (referred to as BT) started selling e-cigs when they saw their profits drop due to the increase in e-cig sales by smaller companies. In fact, RJ Reynolds has pushed several states to ban online sales, tax e-cigs, and require small businesses to get more licenses to sell their products in hopes to eliminate competition with the smaller businesses. The ANTZ are funded by Pharmaceutical companies (referred to as Big Pharma) that make traditional Nicotine Replacement Therapy products. They do not disclose this fact in their statements. They know as e-cig usage rises, sales of these NRTs ( as well as fewer sin tax monies from states) will suffer. The Councilmen/Councilwomen and ANTZ are merely protecting their financial interests.
“…..it’s for the chiiiilllllldren!”
ANTZ claim that the variety of candy, fruit, and dessert flavors were made to attract children into a life long addiction to nicotine. They cite the recent CDC study which surveyed Middle and High School students usage of e-cigs found here:
What vapers and e-cig advocates point out is that the survey failed to mention whether the students were tobacco smokers before they started using an e-cig. The survey also failed to mention that it only studied the students who experimented with e-cigs, NOT habitual use. There were two male high school students who claimed that they have seen e-cigs being used in the classroom and hallways of their school and none of the teachers, principals, and staff have tried to stop them from using e-cigs on school grounds. They claimed that including e-cigs in the Clean Indoor Air Act would keep kids from using e-cigs. Vapers at the meeting expressed that laws will not stop teens from doing things they shouldn’t be doing, and it should be dealt with by school officials and parents of those teens, NOT the government.
“There’s not enough studies to determine the safety of e-cigs.”or “The FDA study shows there are trace amounts of Tobacco Specific Nitrosamines (TSNAs) present in the e-liquid and vapor.” or “There’s anti-freeze in e-liquid!”
E-cig advocates and vapers presented the council members with many studies which showed that the vapor emitted were not harmful to bystanders. You can find those studies on ECA’s blog by Klaus Kneale here. Vapers pointed out the false information in the press release the FDA made to the public. The e-cigs tested in the study were of only two companies and only 1 cartridge out of 17 found trace levels of diethylene glycol (or anti-freeze). Dr. Gilbert Ross from American Council on Science and Health, as well as, Dr. Michael Siegel from the Boston University School of Public Health said that the study was conducted using older technology and could not be replicated in later studies. Quotes by Dr. Michael Siegel, Dr. Thomas Eissenberg of Virginia Commonwealth University, and Dr. Igor Burstyn were also used regarding the efficacy and safety of e-cig usage. A letter to the NYC Council is posted on CASAA’s blog here.
“E-cigs will re-normalize smoking.”
Advocates cheered when VapeNY and Greg Conley said vaping will normalize NOT smoking. ANTZ referred to the AFLAC duck by saying, “If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, it must by a duck.” in reference to vaping looking like smoking. This suggests that the inclusion of e-cigs in the Clean Indoor Air Act goes beyond public health. It is to demonize e-cig users and smokers.
“It’ll be hard to enforce the smoking ban.”
Advocates stated that there is no side stream smoke, no ash, no smell (or short whiff of a pleasant smell), and the vapor dissipates quickly. There were three representatives in the hospitality industry (restaurant/bar owners and hotel managers) who said that e-cigs would greatly reduce the number of noise complaints from residents if e-cig users were allowed to use them inside. They explained that there would be a security issue if e-cig users were included in the smoking ban, because of the extra security they needed to search patrons going outside to vape and coming back inside to drink and socialize. Furthermore, the bar owners stated that it should be up to the owners discretion as to how they wanted to handle vaping in their establishments. One e-cig user even said that vapers would be able to vape indoors without anyone knowing just by holding their breath for 10 seconds after inhalation (also known as “stealth vaping”). As vapers blew plumes of vapor into the air, two councilmen stated that they noticed that the vapor disappeared quickly and it did smell pleasant.
“E-cigs are being used to smoke illegal substances.”
Advocates say it would be easy to tell if someone was using an illegal substance due to the smell of these illegal substances. Moreover, banning e-cigs just because some individuals are using e-cigs with illegal substances is insane. Marijuana smokers have used apples to smoke marijuana, yet apples have not been banned. Dr. Gilbert Ross also mentioned that a college roommate used to empty his Marlboro cigarettes and stuff marijuana into it, yet Marlboros have not been banned.
“E-cigs have been known to blow up.”
ANTZ stated two stories regarding a battery exploding 1) in a car and 2) in someone’s face. Advocates replied back that any product that uses Lithium-ion batteries have been known to explode. They cited cases where cell phones and laptops exploded due to user error. Basic battery care should be applied with any product that uses Lithium-ion batteries, including e-cigs.
While watching the hearing, I realized that, despite the opposition to e-cig use in public, vapers and the public health community (American Cancer Society, American Lung Association, and American Heart Association) both have a desire to protect people from the dangers of smoking. The public health community refuses to see it this way. They equate vaping to smoking. They continuously ignore anecdotal evidence, both by vapers themselves and non-vapers, as well as, studies conducted by large Universities and prominent physicians and scientists. They cling to the fact that if people quit smoking, they need to quit nicotine, too. ANTZ stated that the inclusion of e-cigs in the smoking ban in New Jersey reduced the number of smokers in New Jersey. As vapers, we know vaping has helped us from going back to combustible cigarettes. As more studies come out in favor of e-cigs, the ANTZ will deny the validity of these studies. It is imperative that we stay vigilant for any legislation that would impede our rights. I recommend all vapers to become a member of CASAA to help in fighting these bans and promoting public health.