The popularity of e-cigarettes is growing, but little research has been done on the impact of these devices on users’ health – or on the health of those who may be inhaling the cigarette’s secondhand vapor, which looks much like smoke. / PA Wire/ Peter Byrne
Sheila McLaughlin reports:
Unregulated and growing rapidly in popularity, electronic cigarettes have generated $2 billion a year in U.S. sales and a cloud of confusion: Where can you smoke them? Who can smoke them? How safe are they?
They do not make smoke, instead emitting a vapor that hasn’t been analyzed for the harm it could cause.
E-cigarettes are not covered by federal rules or state and county indoor smoking bans, leaving it up to businesses to decide whether to allow their use. At the moment in Ohio and Kentucky, nothing prevents minors from using the devices, which contain nicotine.
Ohio and Kentucky legislators are moving to keep them out of the hands of children, as Indiana and at least 26 other states have already done. And this week, Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear said he wants a 20-cent tax on e-cigarettes to discourage people from using them.
While some smokers see e-cigarettes as a tool to help them quit, no one has studied their impact on health. CVS Caremark, which announced this week that it is banning the sale of all tobacco products from its CVS pharmacy stores, has never carried e-cigarettes while it waits for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to determine their risk.
Some places, including University of Cincinnati Medical Center, have banned them because they contain habit-forming nicotine. At Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport, using the devices has been restricted for nearly a year – just like tobacco – to a designated smoking lounge.
You might be able to get away with an e-cigarette at your local tavern, though, and you definitely can use one at some Greater Cincinnati restaurants.
Dante Miyamoto of Hamilton has been smoking e-cigarettes since early January to get away from smoking tobacco. The 23-year-old said he’s been confronted only a few times for using the e-cigarette inside a public place. Recently, he used one while he shopped for groceries and no one stopped him.
“Right now there’s no law preventing it, so a lot of people don’t even know what to do. Most of the time it’s, ‘What does management say?’ ” Miyamoto said. “And most of the time, if it gets to that, management will say, ‘We would appreciate it if you go outside.’ ”
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