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Proposed Ban Heats Up E-Cigarette Fight

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Setting the stage for the biggest fight over electronic cigarettes yet, Sen. Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) wants to ban vaping anywhere that smoking tobacco is outlawed.
Setting the stage for the biggest fight over electronic cigarettes yet, Sen. Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) wants to ban vaping anywhere that smoking tobacco is outlawed. | Photo: TBEC Review/Flickr/Creative Commons

Setting the stage for the biggest fight over electronic cigarettes yet, Sen. Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) wants to ban vaping anywhere that smoking tobacco is outlawed. SB 140, introduced Monday, would also make e-cigarettes subject to state laws that make it a crime to sell tobacco products to minors.

The bill would end an largely unregulated run during which vaping saw a great rise in popularity and make California the fourth state to treat e-cigarettes like traditional smoke tobacco products.

Vaping advocate Gregory Conley of the American Vaping Association said he feels banning vaping is unfair and ignores science he says demonstrates that vaping doesn't pose hazards. "In this case, it's utterly dishonest to redefine smoking as a smoke free product. In contrast to second hand smoke, there's no evidence that aerosols pose a threat to the health of bystanders."

In a press release on his website, Leno said that e-cigarettes should be considered a tobacco product despite being "sold in a modern or trendy disguise."

"Addiction is what's really being sold. Like traditional cigarettes, e-cigarettes deliver nicotine in a cloud of other toxic chemicals, and their use should be restricted equally under state law in order to protect public health," Leno said.

Leno's bill is supported by including the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, American Heart Association, and American Lung Association.

Pro- and anti-vaping advocates can't seem to agree on science when it comes to the public health risks. Conley pointed to a 2013 study by public health researchers at Drexel University that he says concludes that vaping poses no public health risk. "It's an ideological fight more than it is about science," Conley said.

Leno's website, on the other hand, mentions a 2009 study by the Food and Drug Administration that found "cancer"causing chemicals, including an ingredient used in antifreeze" in two e-cigarette brands, and that products labeled "nicotine-free" actually contained nicotine. Another study cites the presence in vapor of formaldehyde, a known carcinogen.

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