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E-cigs more dangerous than previously thought

BY BILL COONEY | FEBRUARY 13, 2015 5:00 AM

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Puffing vapor from an e-cigarette may be more like inhaling smoke from a traditional cigarette than many people realize, according to a new study.

Researchers at the University of Rochester recently tested e-cigarette vapors on mice and found they led to lung damage and inflammation. This is in sharp contrast to tobacco companies, which tout their products as a safer alternative to traditional cigarettes.

“The tobacco companies are going back to an old playbook with this one; they know it will take five to ten years to definitively come out and say: These things kill people,” said Iowa City City Councilor Rick Dobyns. “ In that time, they know they can get a lot of people addicted to these devices that deliver a large amount of nicotine into the system.”

This is the beginning of many studies that show e-cigs are dangerous, Dobyns said, and if more studies are published, laws could begin to be passed that restrict their use.

“Banning them from indoor spaces might be an option,” Dobyns said. “The council still needs to look and see if that would be legal.”

Iowa City banned e-cigarettes on city property in 2014, but decided to hold off on banning use in other indoor spaces until further information was published.

Doug Beardsley, the director of Johnson County Public Health, said he’d like to see equal treatment for e-cigs.

“Ideally, we would like to see them treated the same as tobacco cigarettes in the future,” he said.

Beardsley said he believes the debate over e-cigs is not going away soon.

“If we don’t do anything, we’ll find ourselves in the same boat as when smoking was allowed inside,” he said.

For now, smoking e-cigs indoors is allowed except on University of Iowa property, Johnson County, or city buildings.

Local businesses have been slower to adapt e-cig policies.

“We don’t have a policy on e-cigs because they haven’t been a problem yet,” said Aaron Jennings, the owner of Micky’s Irish Pub, 11 S. Dubuque St. “If a customer were to complain that it were bothering them, we would ask the customer vaping to stop or go outside.”

Martinis, 127 E. College St., has a similar policy.

“Customers are allowed to vape inside,” said Martini manager Kaitlyn Jacobs. “We do recommend that users go outside, but we’re not going to force them to.”

Beardsley said e-cigs contain nicotine and particulate matter, just like regular cigarettes, so they should be regulated for indoor spaces.

“The choice between e-cigarettes and traditional cigarettes is, ‘Do I want a little bit of poison, or do I want a lot of poison?’ ” he said.


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