Nov. 21, 2013
Testimony of Angela Bradbery
Co-founder of Smokefree DC
Before the Committee on Health, Regarding Bill 20-233, “The Electronic Cigarette Parity Amendment Act of 2013
Good morning. My name is Angela Bradbery, and I am co-founder of Smokefree DC, the organization that led the successful grassroots push for the smokefree workplace law that the Council passed in 2006.
I am here today to support Bill 20-233, the Electronic Cigarette Parity Amendment Act of 2013. I would like to make three points:
1) The health effects on nonsmokers of e-cigarette secondhand vapor are unknown.
2) Permitting e-cigarettes to be smoked in smokefree areas will weaken the city’s popular smokefree law.
3) Many other cities throughout the country are passing laws to include e-cigarettes in their smokefree workplace laws.
The health effects of e-cigarettes are unknown.
E-cigarettes emit a vapor of chemicals, and the jury is still out as to how harmful those may be to nonsmokers The tobacco industry says “Trust us, it’s safe.” We’ve heard that before.
In 2009, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released a warning about e-cigarettes, saying that a laboratory analysis found they contain carcinogens and toxic chemicals including diethylene glycol, which is found in antifreeze.
The agency said that it “is concerned about the safety of these products.” The agency now is considering regulating them.
The little we know about the vapor that comes from e-cigarettes is disturbing. Renowned secondhand smoke researcher Stan Glantz determined that e-cigarette vapor contains a host of chemicals that in California are required to carry a warning because they can cause cancer or reproductive problems. The chemicals include acetaldehyde, benzene, cadmium, formaldehyde, isoprene, lead, nickel, nicotine, nitrosonornicotine and toluene.
A 2012 study published in the journal Indoor Air concluded that:
“The consumption of e-cigarettes marks a new source for chemical and aerosol exposure in the indoor environment. To evaluate the impact of e-cigarettes on indoor air quality and to estimate the possible effect of passive vaping, information about the chemical characteristics of the released vapor is needed.
In short, e-cigarettes are so new that we don’t know exactly what’s in the vapor, but we do know that toxic chemicals harmful to people are inside e-cigarettes. If we follow the precautionary principle, which says that we should make sure a product is safe before exposing people to it, we shouldn’t allow e-cigarettes in smokefree venues.
Permitting e-cigarettes to be smoked in smokefree areas will weaken the city’s smokefree law.
When someone smokes an e-cigarette, a vapor is emitted into the air that can closely resemble cigarette smoke. (See attached pictures.) If using e-cigarettes is permitted in smokefree venues, it is likely to cause confusion as to where smoking is allowed. Smokers of real cigarettes likely will pull out real cigarettes and light up in what are supposed to be smokefree areas.
This will jeopardize the District’s very popular smokefree workplace law, which has enjoyed a high compliance rate.
Other cities and states do not permit e-cigarettes to be used in smokefree areas.
Policymakers throughout the country are considering how to deal with e-cigarettes, and many are specifically covering e-cigarettes in their smokefree laws.
According to information compiled by Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights, e-cigarettes are prohibited in certain smokefree areas in 12 states. They are Arkansas, Colorado, Delaware, Kansas, Maryland, New Hampshire, New Jersey, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota and Utah. Three of these – North Dakota, New Jersey and Utah – prohibit e-cigarette use in workplaces, restaurants and bars. In the other states, e-cigarettes are prohibited in a range of other facilities, such as schools and Department of Corrections facilities.
In addition, the use of e-cigarettes is restricted in 100 cities and counties throughout the country.
For the sake of health, and to ensure we don’t weaken our very good smokefree workplace law, Smokefree DC urges this committee to approve this measure.