At Leg. Aney Paul’s urging, Legislature requests more information on emerging trend. Leg. Jobson resists proposed nanny state measure
BY MICHAEL RICONDA
NEW CITY – The rise of e-cigarettes has stoked both optimism and concern nationwide. Optimism that the smoking option can help long time puffers quit the habit, and concern that the cigarettes have unknown risks and could be appealing to teenagers.
The legislature’s multi-services committee held a brief discussion on e-cigarettes on Tuesday, pressing Deputy Health Commissioner Ron Hansen for information on the new trend.
E-cigarettes are devices which use an atomizer to vaporize a liquid solution containing nicotine for a fix that does not include most of the harmful substances in tobacco products. According to Hansen, e-cigarettes are relatively new, so research is still scant.
“The jury is out,” Hansen said. “They don’t know the effects of it.”
Leg. Aney Paul, who brought the discussion to the legislature, argued the body should err on the side of caution by seeking to restrict the use of e-cigarettes and prevent their use by minors.
“I think we need a regulation that prevents more addiction and more harm,” Paul said.
However, the Committee and Health Department were hesitant to act. Hansen pointed out e-cigarettes are becoming popular in part because they are seen as an effective smoking cessation aid, with anecdotal evidence suggesting they can help even longtime smokers to quit.
“I think we need to find more data to find who’s actually use them,” Hansen said. “I don’t think I would recommend we do anything right now.”
Leg. Douglas Jobson was even more resistant, explaining he had worked with people whose health had been radically improved thanks to e-cigarettes. Jobson suggested regulation at this stage was overly cautious, especially considering e-cigarettes do not emit smoke like regular cigarettes.
“We’re not going to be passing laws against secondhand mist in the future, are we?” Jobson quipped.
Because they contain nicotine, e-cigarettes are currently regulated by the FDA. However, their federal status is ambiguous and differs from state-to-state. Owing to a lack of legal classification, some states allow sales of e-cigarettes to minors.
On the state level, New York has been mulling over its own regulations. NYC enacted a ban on public e-cigarette use in December, but faces a legal challenge to the law from NYC Citizens Lobbying Against Smoker Harassment, a smokers’ advocacy group. E-cigarettes are also an emerging topic of conversation in Albany.
Meanwhile, research on e-cigarettes continues. A study recently published in the Journal of the American Medical Association Internal Medicine suggests e-cigarettes are not causally related to smoking cessation, contradicting prior medical reviews and anecdotal accounts of their efficacy.