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Action Alert

Do you think e-cigarettes should be allowed in California workplaces?

Publication Date: 7/29/2013
e-cigarette vapor

Do you think e-cigarettes should be allowed in California workplaces?

The popularity of electronic or e-cigarettes is surging at the same time as health concerns continue to grow about these unregulated nicotine-delivery devices.

Thankfully, the California legislature is considering a bill that would add electronic cigarettes to existing state laws that restrict where smoking can occur.

The bill would prohibit the use of e-cigarettes in smokefree places, including public buildings, restaurants and bars, health facilities, school campuses, day care facilities, playgrounds and tot lots, and public transportation.

SB 648 passed the Senate on May 24 by a vote of 21-10. It is scheduled for a hearing on August 14 in the Assembly Committee on Governmental Organization.  Rumor has it this is a very unfriendly committee, so we need ANR members to voice their support for SB 648 today!

At least 22 California communities, as well as states from New Jersey to North Dakota, have already taken action to protect public health by prohibiting the use of e-cigarettes in smokefree places

What can you do?

  • Call or email your Assembly member and encourage him/her to support SB 648. Unless e-cigarettes are proven to be safe to the user—and to non-users who are exposed to their vapors—the product should not be allowed in smokefree indoor environments.
  • Speak up when you see someone using an e-cigarette, or another electronic product like an e-hookah pen, in smokefree spaces.  Just like we used to politely ask people to not smoke near us in restaurants and offices, it’s appropriate to ask people to use e-cigarettes outdoors.
E-cigarette
e-hookah

Why all the fuss about e-cigarettes?

E-cigarettes proponents are heavily and deceptively marketing the products to the public—especially to young adults via online media—as a “safe” alternative to smoking and an easy way to quit smoking tobacco cigarettes. Supporters claim that e-cigarettes release “nothing but water vapor.” Unfortunately, the truth of e-cigarettes is not so rosy. E-cigarettes are currently an unregulated product, and a great deal remains unknown about their safety, efficacy, and impact on both the user and the non-user exposed to their vapor. The claims are misleading given the limited amount of research on the health effects of e-cigarettes and their effectiveness in helping people to quit smoking.

What we do know is that e-cigarettes contain nicotine which maintains addiction, and recent research shows that the vapor releases measurable amounts of carcinogens and toxins into the air, including nicotine, formaldehyde, and acetaldehyde, and contains metals including lead, chromium, and nickel—  and most of these are on California’s Prop 65* list of carcinogens and reproductive toxins.   So, while some may believe the product is "safer," use of the product certainly isn't risk-free.

Adding to concerns, there is a concerted effort by e-cigarette companies to prevent regulation of the product, and now that the three major U.S. tobacco companies have bought or developed e-cigarette brands, we expect to see even more aggressive marketing and lobbying tactics to legitimize these potentially harmful products.

Also, allowing e-cigarette use in smokefree areas undermines the decades of hard work that California has done to de-normalize smoking and change the social norm around not smoking in ways that harm other people.  E-cigarettes come in an impossibly long list of enticing flavors that are very likely to appeal to youth, from Black Cherry Cream Soda to Lemon Chiffon Pie to Vanilla Caramel Frappuccino.

It is better to err on the side of caution and prohibit the use of e-cigarettes in smokefree environments.

Let’s not go backwards! Please voice your support for SB 648 before August 14!

*California's landmark Proposition 65, the Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986, was enacted as a ballot initiative in November 1986. The Proposition was intended by its authors to protect California citizens and the State's drinking water sources from chemicals known to cause cancer, birth defects or other reproductive harm, and to inform citizens about exposures to such chemicals.

Proposition 65 requires the Governor to publish, at least annually, a list of chemicals known to the state to cause cancer or reproductive toxicity.

Products containing chemicals on the Proposition 65 list are required to carry the following warning in California:  "WARNING: This product contains chemicals known to the State of California to cause cancer and birth defects or other reproductive harm."