While the EPA tries to remove harmless substances from its hazards list, public health officials in Washington’s King County are doing quite the opposite by proposing a ban on the use of e-cigarettes in public places. Their rationale includes a host of nonsensical excuses, such as e-cigarettes lead to secondhand smoke, they are so similar in appearance to regular cigarettes that they’ll just confuse other bar patrons and encourage them to light up the real thing, and they are known to possess such carcinogenic chemicals as nitrosamines and diethylene glycol. If there were any veracity to these claims, then these would be great reasons to ban e-cigarettes, but as William T. Godshall, MPH, executive director of Smokefree Pennsylvania, points out, there isn’t.
In a letter to the King County Board of Health, Mr. Godshall reminds regulators that there is actually no smoke emitted from e-cigarettes, and that the only so-called toxin (diethelyene glycol) the FDA found was present at trace levels that posed no adverse health risks in just one sample out of 19 e-cigarettes the government tested. In response to the claim that public e-cigarette use might encourage others to light up too, Mr. Godshall asks: “Will the Board of Health next propose banning obese people from public places” since they might pose the risk of encouraging people to eat more?
Since the reasons that the Board of Health cites to ban e-cigarettes are either false or ridiculous, ACSH's Dr. Gilbert Ross wonders: “Someone please tell me why people of good faith and intelligence are so vitriolic about e-cigarettes? Don’t they understand that 45 million addicted smokers desperately need an effective method to help them quit? When they try to ban e-cigarettes, the message they send is, ‘just keep on smoking regular cigarettes.’”
According to Mr. Godshall’s figures, “about 500,000 smokers in America have quit smoking or sharply reduced cigarette consumption by switching to e-cigarettes in the past several years, and many/most e-cigarette consumers have found the products effective for quitting smoking and improving respiratory health.”