Anyone who does not observe these regulations could be facing a first conviction of a fine between $30 to $300 or 10 to 30 days in jail, whilst a second sentence would lead to a fine of $500 to $1,000 or jail time for up to a year.
A public hearing gave a voice to the different opinions
Following this proposal, and in the midst of all the different opinions about electronic cigarettes, last Monday on the 15th of August,15 people testified at a public hearing on the the topic, held by Allegheny County Board of Health.
Ryan Huntermark, a 21 year old ex-smoker from Reserve, said that when he started smoking at 14, he didn’t realize that this habit would carry on for six years, menacing his health. Ryan managed to kick this habit last year by using e-cigarettes as an alternative. He added that he lost 100 pounds as exercise became possible. Since vapers are able to regulate the amount of nicotine in the vapor, his daily nicotine intake was reduced to 3 milligrams, which is half what is contained in a single cigarette. As he still uses e-cigarettes in the car, his shop and his home, Huntermark pointed out that he didn’t quit cold turkey, and that in his opinion it is easier to wean oneself off gradually.
Even though he is a believer in regulating tobacco, executive director of Smokefree Pennsylvania Bill Godshall, told board members Lee Harrison, Ellen Stewart and Bill Youngblood, county Health Director Karen Hacker and county Councilman John Palmiere, that demonizing vaping is detrimental to public health as it is known that 7.4 million smokers quit the deadly habit through vaping.
Vape shop owners are seeing this as “an assault on their livelihood”, with one suggesting lifting the ban on minors keeping out of their shops, as long as they are accompanied. She claimed that this ban makes it difficult for e-cigarette users who have kids to go into the vaping shops and concluded by saying that every person should have the right to vape if they wish to.
However Erika Fricke, health policy director for Allies for Children, said that not only should children be shielded against the exposure of potentially harmful airborne droplets from e-liquids vapor, but also protected from seeing vaping behaviour in the same way as that of smoking, so that nicotine consumption in this way is not normalized for them.
Brittany Huffman, project coordinator of the nonprofit Tobacco Free Allegheny supports the proposed regulation, citing a Harvard study from December saying that one of the chemicals found in up to 51 flavours of e-liquids, Diacetyl, is associated with severe respiratory disease.
Dr. Brian Primack, professor of medicine at the University of Pittsburgh said that after studying e-cigarettes for a decade, their emissions are still not yet understood. He quoted a recent study that found that young adults who vape are more likely to take on smoking later on, even though this theory was proven unfounded on numerous occasions. He concluded his argument by stating that research found that e-cigarettes were not found to be anymore effective than nicotine patches in helping people to quit smoking. Many have argued this, as part of the effectiveness of e-cigarettes as a cessation tool, is the fact that it mimics the smoking experience.
The aforementioned Mr. Huntermark and Mr. Godshall, both cited the findings released by the Royal College of Physicians in the UK. Although concerned with the possible long term effects of vapour inhalation, and stating that nicotine patches are probably a safer bet, the RCP stated, “The hazard to health arising from long-term vapour inhalation from the e-cigarettes available today is unlikely to exceed 5 percent of the harm from smoking tobacco.”
Whilst the above report from the UK also mentioned the fear that the use of e-cigarettes may normalize the act of smoking again, Huntermark pointed out that ex-smoking vapers might once again turn to tobacco cigarettes should vaping become an inconvenience. The latter argument is in line with Public Health England’s campaign to support vapers who use e-cigarettes as a cessation tool at their work places, by allowing them to take regular breaks to intake the nicotine required, and to not restrict them to vaping in smoking areas, so as to not undermine their efforts.
Make a contribution, share your viewpoint
The Board of Health should be passing their vote on this proposal at its November meeting, and public comments about this are encouraged and will be accepted up to the 22nd of August at 5pm.
All correspondence must include a first, last name and a complete mailing address, and comments can be shared either via email at PublicHealthComment@AlleghenyCounty.us or by submitting a written comment to the administrative offices:
Attn: E-Cigarettes & Vaping Public Comments
Allegheny County Health Department
542 Fourth Ave.
Pittsburgh, PA 15219