First vote passes on ban of e-cigarettes

BY SHAFIN KHAN | JUNE 17, 2015 5:00 AM

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In regards to the possible regulations on e-cigarettes, views between the Iowa City City Council and local residents differed greatly.

At Tuesday’s city council meeting, councilors and local residents discussed potentially implementing regulations on smoking e-cigarettes in public areas in the coming months.

The council voted 6-0 to support the ban on e-cigarettes in public places. Councilor Rick Dobyns was absent.

Several local residents who attended the meeting said they believed the biggest threat of regulating e-cigarettes was it might discourage smokers who are attempting to quit by using e-cigarettes as a replacement for nicotine cigarettes.

Residents also argued having rules against smoking e-cigarettes in public may turn people off to the idea of using them due to the fact they would have to smoke them privately.

Councilor Terry Dickens however said he believed preventing public smoking isn’t restricting freedom, and said by keeping smoking at home or in private places it may control smoking in public more and contribute positively to public health.

Another concern that came from local residents on potentially implementing regulations on e-cigarettes in public places was this was simply another way for those with power to exercise regulation over those without power.

“I think that it’s just an excuse to marginalize and put authority over others, it just increases the police-state power over the public,” local resident Michael Conroy said.

Most of the councilors kept their stance on the issue and did not budge during discussion of the topic.

“I don’t think people’s liberty or freedom is being strained,” Councilor Jim Throgmorton said.
Some local residents went as far as to describe these possible regulations as “malicious” and “spiteful” legislation, and said they believed implementing regulation on this product was not worth the fight if it helps smokers quit.

“I’m against banning e-cigarettes in all public spaces, I’m fairly convinced they are not harmful to others around, making second hand smoke not an issue,” Conroy said.

Although Conroy and other residents criticized the ban on e-cigarettes, he said he did fully support the regulation of nicotine cigarettes for clean air and public health.

However, he and other residents questioned the motivation behind a movement to eliminate what they saw as harmless water vapor.

Councilors Susan Mims and Michelle Payne disagreed.

“I’m really convinced that there is not enough science out there to market these as safe,” Mims said.

Payne also questioned the quality of the public information on the lack of risks of e-cigarettes saying, “I think it does have negative public effects.”

A concern brought up by both the councilors and local residents was public safety and how reliable the science is behind e-cigarettes — one resident raised the idea that being able to smoke e-cigarettes in public may even encourage people to get back into smoking.

A recent study published June 10 in the Tobacco Control journal analyzed the role pyrazine — a common e-cigarette additive — plays in addiction, and found the additive may help reinforce the addictive qualities of nicotine.

Ultimately the Journal’s study recommended e-cigarettes be regulated more by the US Food and Drug Administration.

Tuesday’s vote was the first consideration for the ban for the city council, the measure will be voted on two more times by the Council before it can be implemented.

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