Duluth in Minnesota is set to become the eighteenth city in the US state to ban the use of e cigarettes in public.
In 1989, Minnesota became the first US state to allow smokers or their surviving relatives to take legal action against tobacco companies over smoking-related health issues.
In August, Duluth unveiled ordinances which would regulate electronic cigarettes in the same way as cigarettes. At a council meeting on 5 September, Duluth councillors agreed to impose a ban on e-cigarettes.
Duluth residents had campaigned against the ban with a Call to Action targeting the council meeting. Duluth councillors had questioned the safety of electronic cigarettes and the side effects the chemicals which deliver doses of nicotine in a vapour.
The measures were introduced on the advice of a Duluth representative of the American Lung Foundation.
Duluth has a clean air policy and councillor Jennifer Julsrud said the restrictions on using e-cigarettes in public places in the city were to protect air quality and also protect children from harmful emissions from tobacco and e-cigarette products.
The ban is due to be enforced from 10 October and will place e-cigarette use on a par legally with using tobacco cigarettes in Duluth. Electronic cigarettes will also only be sold to those over 18 in Duluth stores, which will require a licence to sell them.
Many ex-smokers who have managed to quit tobacco using e-cigarettes are dismayed at the global the backlash against the alternative smoking product, which they say has helped them to quit smoking after many failed attempts.
As yet there has been no recorded death linked to e-cigarette use, but health experts claim that because electronic cigarettes are largely untested clinically and are unregulated, this in itself gives cause for concern over the possible long-term effects of using them in place of tobacco.
The popularity of electronic cigarettes has also hit the tobacco industry hard and many cigarette manufacturers are producing their own brands of e-cigarettes to compete in the marketplace and claw back lost revenue as the number of smokers dwindles worldwide.
The effects of tobacco on health are now well known, with an estimated 6 million smoking-related deaths occurring every year.
The Scottish Parliament is currently pushing through legislation which would legally enforce plainer packaging for tobacco cigarettes to deter young adults from buying them in the shops.
But as governments move to make smoking less appealing to youngsters and imposing graphic illustrations and warnings on packets of cigarettes to deter nonsmokers from taking up the habit, there has also been concern that electronic cigarettes might act as a gateway to young adults and even children taking up the habit.
At the Duluth Council meeting on 5 September, many of the committee were torn between the argument for banning electronic cigarettes in public in Duluth and the argument that e-cigarettes were a valuable tool in helping long-term smokers quit tobacco.
Vice president of operations at Essentia Health, Mike McEvoy said at the meeting:
“In my opinion, nothing good can come of this behavior. At the very least, it can lead to a personal habit that affects no one. At the very worst, it can lead to a lifetime of nicotine addiction.”
However, many smokers who turn to electronic cigarettes to try and quit are already addicted to nicotine, and suffering the effects of inhaling harmful carcinogenic tobacco smoke and the tar it produces.
There is no doubt that nicotine is a powerful drug which enters the lungs quickly and travels to the brain to provide a “nicotine hit” within minutes of a smoker taking their first puff on a cigarette.
As yet there is no evidence that the liquid agents used to deliver nicotine in electronic cigarettes are as harmful as the by-products of tobacco. The two principal liquid agents which turn to vapour in e-cigs are vegetable glycerine or propylene glycol and these are already widely used in both pharmaceutical and cosmetic a products, including products such as baby wipes and moisturisers.
These products also contain chemicals which penetrate the skin and can be absorbed by the body, and in recent years there have been concerns over parabens which are commonly used in all types of cosmetics, from skin creams to deodorants; and which have been linked to a higher risk of breast cancer in both men and women.
Governments across the world are well known for a “nanny state” approach to certain issues and yet one of the most powerful and debilitating drugs on the planet, alcohol, is freely available and its widespread use has blighted many city centres in the UK, as well as popular holiday resorts such as Magaluf in Spain and Kavos on the Greek island of Corfu.
The revenue from alcohol, however, is such that both local and national governments are unlikely to restrict its use, preferring to pay lip service to antisocial behaviour while ignoring the long-term health effects of chronic alcohol use and its effect on the lives of individuals and healthcare budgets.
Currently smokers have a window of opportunity to switch from tobacco products to electronic cigarettes before draconian regulation is enforced, perhaps for health reasons or even to protect the lucrative tobacco industry.
Switching to electronic cigarettes, however, not only reduces the harmful emissions smokers ingest when using tobacco, but also saves smokers significant amounts of money: as much as £2,000-£3,000 could be saved annually on a long-term smoking habit by quitting tobacco and continuing to enjoy nicotine using electronic cigarettes.
And despite fears that e-cigarettes may result in a long-term nicotine addiction, unlike tobacco, vapers (those who use e-cigs) can choose the level of nicotine refill they wish to use and vary this, gradually reducing the level until their nicotine craving is under control.
In the UK, the month of October is Stoptober once again, when the NHS Stoptober 2013 smoking cessation campaign gets underway for 28 days.
Health experts claim that smokers who manage not to use tobacco for 28 days are five times more likely to quit tobacco for good and the NHS has produced a Stoptober information pack to help smokers quit.
The NHS also approved electronic cigarettes as a smoking cessation aid earlier this year. To get started on quitting smoking this Stoptober, choose one of Magnifecig’s starter kits with changeable refills from £22.95 and start saving money and cutting down on tobacco use now.
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