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In a recent guest column for The Courier, state legislator Joel Kleefisch (R-District 38) took fellow lawmaker Rep. Debra Kolste (D – District 44) to task for her campaign to include the use of vapor products in Wisconsin’s statewide smoking ban.
“The emergence of electronic vapor devices has been celebrated by consumers and the industry as a beneficial aid to helping tobacco smokers fight the urge,” wrote Kleefisch. “Vapor devices contain nicotine without the tar, old mattresses and rat poison contained in tobacco cigarettes and cigars. In the body, nicotine has virtually the same effects as when caffeine is consumed. While coffee shop openings are celebrated, the use of vapor devices often elicits the negative connotation of cigarette smoking. Evidence strongly suggests that vapor devices are less harmful and very effective in helping people who are looking for a better alternative.”
“Right in Lake Country, the electronic vapor device industry is booming at Johnson Creek Enterprises,” he wrote. “They have only been in business for six years, but have seen unbelievable growth in the popularity of their products among consumers who want the opportunity to use a legal product. Businesses like this have opened the door to a flourishing industry that’s mission is providing consumers a choice other than smoking tobacco products.”
“Fellow state legislator Rep. Debra Kolste of Janesville introduced legislation that would include electronic vapor devices in the Wisconsin indoor smoking ban. The usage and selling of these products by minors is already against the law and should stay illegal. It’s not governments job to tell people of the legal age that they are not allowed to partake in a legal activity,” the lawmaker pointed out.
“The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is already taking steps to monitor the ingredients in electronic vapor devices,” Kleefisch continued. “Remember, if a bar, restaurant, business or homeowner wants to ban vapor devices in their place, they can. Just as with the concealed carry law, the owner has the ability to set their own policies on electronic vapor devices because it is a legal activity in Wisconsin that is not a part of the indoor smoking ban.”
“The nanny state needs to stop interfering in our daily lives,” argued Kleefisch. “It’s no longer a matter of whether there will be efforts for government to step in and start up the vapor patrols. Many municipalities are rushing to enact ordinances that would ban electronic vapor devices from their cities, towns and villages. The process to prohibit this legal activity is already happening and could create a fight very similar to the smoking ban.”
“When the right to choose where an adult of legal age enjoys a legal activity becomes infringed, our freedoms are taken away,” he explained. “I am willing to take a stand against the interference of government bureaucrats in this legal activity. As always, I am certain some places will decide they don’t want nicotine devices used in their establishments. Let’s leave it up to the consumer to decide whom they will patronize with their pocketbooks.”
Rep. Kleefisch has done his homework and discovered the truth about vapor products. He was a sponsor of AB 762, which sought to exempt vapor devices from inclusion in state smoking bans. Unfortunately, the bill failed to pass. (One reason given to supporters of the blll, by lawmakers who voted against it, was that there weren’t any attempts to include vapor products in smoking bans, so it was “unnecessary.”) Rep. Kleefisch is also the spouse of the current Lieutenant Governor of Wisconsin, Rebecca Kleefisch. WSAC is hopeful that she is of the same mind as her husband and will convince Governor Walker that banning the use of vapor products anywhere by law is bad for the health of Wisconsin smokers and bad for Wisconsin.
Please sign the Wisconsin Smoke-free Alternatives Coaltion (WSAC) petition requesting Wisconsin lawmakers oppose any laws prohibiting the use oif vapor products at Change.org and don’t forget to sign up for a free membership at WSAC today!
Madison, Wsconsin — January 14, 2014
In a joint press release issued Monday, the American Cancer Society, American Heart Association and American Lung Association credited the state’s cessation and prevention program and recent tax increases for lowering smoking rates among adults and youth, now at 18% and 10% respectively.
At the same time, the organizations expressed dismay at the increased use of e-cigarettes, which seem not to have any impact in slowing the declining smoking rates at all. In fact, the same Wisconsin survey that found record low teen smoking rates also found the rate of Wisconsin teens using e-cigarette is 75 percent higher than the national average. Some might argue that the products may have had a hand in the significant reduction of actual smoking.
“The tobacco industry is aggressively marketing e-cigarettes to teens and young adults,” said Dona Wininsky, with the American Lung Association in Wisconsin. “Bubble gum, candy apple and cotton candy are just some of the kid-friendly e-cigarette flavors. Obviously these products are being pushed on kids and are not just another way for adults to quit
smoking,” said Wininsky.
“The claim that only youth would find these flavors appealing is a bit disingenuous,” said Kristin Noll-Marsh, of the Wisconsin Smoke-free Alternatives Coalition, a statewide group that promotes tobacco harm reduction policies. “Vodka companies sell vodka flavors in bubble gum, root beer and birthday cake. Obviously, if adult vodka drinkers like those flavors, so would adult consumers of vapor products. Even nicotine gums and lozenges come in sweet flavors like cherry, fruit chill and orange, not tobacco and menthol. E-cigarettes are about getting away from smoking and for some smokers, that includes getting as far away from the flavor of cigarettes as possible.”
Noll-Marsh says she’s shocked that public health groups want to treat vapor products as an enemy, rather than as an ally. “It’s so obvious that as the number of people using vapor products rises, the number of those smoking is going down,” she said.
“It’s like reporting a significant decline in STDs in both adults and youth and in the next breath saying you are concerned about increased use of condoms by youth.” Noll-Marsh pointed out. “Of course we’d much prefer youth remain abstinent, but demonizing a product that is obviously doing more overall good than harm makes no sense.”
The 2015 Burden of Tobacco Report released Monday by the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, shows Wisconsin is losing billions of dollars to tobacco-related health care costs and lost worker productivity. The report estimates smoking costs Wisconsin $4.6 billion annually; including $3 billion in health care costs and an additional $1.6 billion in lost productivity. Tobacco use is also responsible for nearly 7,000 deaths in Wisconsin and is the cause of 80 percent of all lung cancer deaths and 14 percent of all heart attacks in the state.
“The tobacco-related health care costs are something like 99.9% related to smoking alone. So, it’s more accurate to call it “smoking-related costs,” Noll-Marsh emphasized. “And this is after a statewide smoking ban, yet another tobacco tax increase and, ironically, an “F” rating for tobacco prevention from the very American Lung Association that says those efforts have somehow still worked to lower our smoking rates. Obviously, we need new tools and strategies to cut those costs and save lives.
Noll-Marsh says tobacco harm reductions policies – which support methods such as providing safer alternatives for high risk behaviors – is what is making the difference.
“WSAC takes a realistic approach,” she said. “Just as with safe sex, we can’t keep pretending that we can get all people to stop high-risk behaviors like smoking, so providing them with a viable alternative is the next best thing. And vapor products reduce those risks to such a low level, it’s nearly as good as having gotten them to quit altogether.”
For more information,contact:
Wisconsin Smoke-free Alternatives Coalition
(MADISON) – Rep. Debra Kolste (D-Janesville) is circulating legislation that would add vapor devices (being called “Electronic Smoking Devices (ESDs)” by the sponsor) to Wisconsin’s indoor smoking ban, Kolste, a Democrat, represents the 44th Assembly District, which mainly consists of the city of Janesville.
Sponsors are claiming that vapor products contain harmful levels of “toxins” found in traditional cigarettes, including higher levels of nickel and other toxic chemicals like lead and zinc. They claim research shows that these toxins are released into the air as secondhand e-cigarette “smoke,” although the levels at which they are found are highly unlikely to pose any health risks to the user, let alone to bystanders.
“Allowing the use of ESDs in establishments that fall under the state’s smoke-free laws undermines the very purpose of the smoking ban,” said Kolste. “The legislature passed the smoking ban to protect public safety, and allowing people to use e-cigarettes in smoke-free venues directly contradicts Wisconsin’s efforts to create healthier indoor environments for workers and patrons alike.”
The World Health Organization recommends that ESDs not be used indoors in order to minimize the risk of exposure to second-hand e-cigarette smoke. However, dozens of health experts have called the WHO to task for spreading disinformation about vapor products.
According to the press release, an analysis by the US Food and Drug Administration found that nearly one-third of adverse-event reports for ESDs are related to secondhand exposure. Although there are an estimated 2.5 million vapor product consumers in the U.S., there were only 33 complaints by non-users nationwide, which were not verified by the agency.
“It only makes sense to close this e-cigarette loophole and honor the intent behind Wisconsin’s indoor smoking ban,” Kolste said. “It’s time we extinguish the use of e-cigarettes in indoor establishments.”
“Actually, the purpose of state’s smoke-free laws is to protect the public specifically from smoke, not vapor. The ‘intent’ of the law was to protect people from actual harm. There is no such evidence that e-cigarette vapor is a hazard to the users, let alone to bystanders,” said Kristin Noll-Marsh, of the Wisconsin Smoke-free Alternatives Coalition (WSAC). WSAC is a loosely-formed, grassroots organization that works to assure the availability and affordability of smoke-free products, such as e-cigarettes, for adult smokers.
“Lawmakers are exaggerating the levels of chemicals that have been detected in some of the vapor products,” Noll-Marsh said. “Simply detecting a chemical does not mean that product is automatically harmful. If you look closely enough, you can find chemicals that are toxic at higher levels in everyday products we consider safe – like flouride and sodium. You have to prove that there is even something to be protected from before you try to ban it’s use in public. That has not been established at all.”
“This is an unscientific witch hunt, unapologetically lobbied by special interest groups that receive funding from companies that make competing products. By the time these groups are proven to be wrong -at least to their satisfaction – it will be too late. Millions of smokers across the country will be dead, because they believed this misinformation and just kept smoking.”
Noll-Marsh testified in Madison in early 2014 in support of Senator Glenn Grothman’s bill to exclude vapor products from the state’s smoking ban. She says she was told by several lawmakers at the time that there was no need for such a law, because no one was trying to prohibit public use.
“I told them [the laws] were coming and now they have. It makes no sense to ban the public use of products that contain less harmful chemicals than the typical indoor air at a restaurant and are reducing the smoke exposure to smokers and their families. More smokers using vapor products indoors means less smokers stand outside on the sidewalk. It’s also a great incentive to get smokers to switch,” Noll-Marsh noted.
WSAC plans to unite consumers and their families from all over the state to fight the ban, she says.
For more information,contact:
Wisconsin Smoke-free Alternatives Coalition
By Matthew Simon, firstname.lastname@example.org
Published On: Jan 06 2015 10:46:35 PM CST
“You don’t want someone putting something in the air next to you without your permission, without knowing what it is. It helps protect your personal health,” District 3 Alder Lauren Cnare, who sponsored the move, said.
The rule change applies to any public place where a cigarette cannot be smoked, such as a restaurant, shopping mall and workplaces.
Those attending the meeting in support of the move echoed Cnare’s point that not enough is known about what’s inside of the unregulated vapor.
“I don’t want to be at dinner and wondering what is in the aerosol in the e-cigarette next to us and if it could be harming our children,” mom Margarita Northrop said.
“Madison residents have come to expect going to restaurants and bars that have smoke-free air. This debate has nothing to do with individual use,” The American Cancer Society’s Sara Sahli said.
But that individual use, specifically how vaping has aided their ability to quit smoking, is at the heart of the issue for opponents….
Grothe, who operates e-cigarette stores in Oshkosh and Appleton, asked his employees to step outside the restaurant to “vape,” as the kids call it these days, rather than fill the restaurant with clouds of scented exhaust.
“Some people don’t care about anyone but themselves and will blow large clouds of vapor inside places,” Grothe said. “Do that at home if you want to, but not in a public place. We should be respectful of others, but not all people are respectful.”
The personal courtesy that Grothe and his employees showed could become a legal requirement in Winnebago County if public health officials get their way.
In the short term, Health Department Director Doug Gieryn wants the Winnebago County Board consider enacting ordinances that would restrict use of e-cigarettes in county buildings and vehicles. The longer term goal is a general ban on their use in bars, restaurants and other businesses and public places in much the same way the statewide smoking ban prohibits smoking.
December 10, 2014 3:16 pm • Cassandra Colson Reporter
Jackson City Chronicle
The city council last week discussed the proposed ordinance but opted to take no action and drop the issue unless it is raised again in the future.
Members of the Jackson County Tavern League appeared back before the council to express the group’s opposition to a ban in private establishments.
“I can’t even recall the last time I’ve even had (an e-cigarette) in our business,” said Jerel Gunning, who owns and operates Brockway-based restaurant and bar Re-Pete’s with wife Jen. “There’s enough of government telling us small business people what to do.
“I think you (the city) do have the right to decide what goes on in your own buildings, taxis – that type of thing.”
Alderperson Tony Chojnacki earlier this year raised the idea of adding e-cigarettes to the indoor smoking ban, saying he supported the electronic devices being treated the same as regular tobacco cigarettes in the local ordinance.
E-cigarettes, also referred to as vape pens, are battery-powered devices that simulate smoking by vaporizing a liquid solution and emitting aerosol that resembles smoke. Public health officials say the devices contain more than just water vapor and can contain nicotine and other harmful ingredients.
Tavern league members previously told the council they had a legal opinion that stated the law doesn’t allow local municipalities to include e-cigarettes in the indoor ban restrictions, which mimic the state law on the issue.
However, the city received a letter in November from the Tobacco Control Legal Consortium that said statutes would allow BRF to restrict e-cigarette use. City Attorney Dan Diehn agreed with the consortium’s opinion.
“It’s my opinion you can (enact an e-cigarette ordinance),” he told the council at its Dec. 2 meeting. “Obviously it’s up to you whether you think that’s a good idea or a bad idea.”
Jen Gunning, like Jerel, told the council last week that the tavern league doesn’t oppose restrictions in city-owned buildings or on city property. She also noted e-cigarettes are legal, while other illegal drug activity in the area should be a higher priority.
Mon 10:52 PM, Dec 08, 2014 By: Kevin Carr
More adults in Wisconsin are kicking the smoking habit.
That’s according to a study from the Wisconsin Department of Health, which shows the state’s adult smoking rate at 18 percent. That’s 2 percent less than in 2012, and about on par with the national average.
Paul White is just one of those adults. He says he used tobacco for most of his life, and but broke the habit through vaping-inhaling and exhaling the vapor produced by an electronic cigarette or similar device. He started out with e-cigarettes, and now uses vaporizer pens.
“I was still craving the Nicotene,” White explained. “I was more concerned with my lungs, and the carcinogens that you get from combustible tobacco.”
Health experts say the current adult smoking rate is proof that prevention programs and efforts are making a difference, while tobacco stores say more people like White are switching to alternatives like vaping….
By Rory Linnane – Wauwatosa Now
Dec. 10, 2014
Wauwatosa’s Community Development Committee voted down an ordinance Dec. 9 that would have banned the use of e-cigarettes in public places and workplaces, similar to the way tobacco smoking is banned.
Members of the committee said they did not think there was significant evidence that smoking e-cigarettes would have harmful secondhand effects. E-cigarettes are personal vaporizers that do not contain tobacco, but may contain some nicotine and other chemicals.
“This is a very restrictive, protective ordinance on our population that I’m just not sure we have the basis for,” Alderman Matt Stippich said.
The committee voted unanimously to put the ordinance on file, so it could be considered again in the future.
Wauwatosa Health Officer Nancy Kreuser, who proposed the ordinance, said e-cigarette smoke can have harmful secondhand effects, especially to people with asthma, impaired respiratory function and other medical conditions.
She was supported by Wauwatosa Nursing Supervisor Lori Nielsen, Sue Marten with the Tobacco-Free Coalition, and Emily White with the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network.
“You want to be a community of choice, which also includes having a culture of health,” Nielsen said. “We are not looking at personally banning it, but we just don’t want people to use it in public where it’s already regulated for cigarettes.”
Several residents spoke in opposition to the ban, arguing that businesses should be able to decide individually whether to allow e-cigarettes.
E-cig users says proposed restriction presents unwanted temptation
Author: Velena Jones, email@example.com
Published On: Nov 23 2014 Channel 3000
MADISON, Wis. –
E-cigarettes are not currently part of the Madison’s smoking ban but the city council is looking to change that. However, with little information to prove the potential effects of the vapors advocates say banning them would be premature.
“To ban them in public is silly because you are forcing people to go where smoking happens, which for a lot of people could cause a relapse,” e-cigarette user Steven Fischer said.
It’s been three months since Steven Fischer stopped smoking cigarettes, which was a 12-year battle he said he might have never won if it had not been for e-cigarettes
Madison city council is looking at including electronic cigarettes in the city’s smoking ban, which prohibits smoking in most indoor places as well as parks and beaches. But supporters of the products believe restricting them may do more harm than good.
“It’s definitely putting a stigma on the whole entire business. It’s going to make it look like what we are doing is wrong, when it’s not,” said Aiden Rueckl, who opened Mad-Vapor six months ago.
Rueckl said 75 percent of his customers are 40 years or older that are trying to stop smoking cigarettes. Rueckl is worried that restricting users would mean taking a step backward.
“These people are legitimately using these to stop smoking cigarettes. We never try to relay the information that this is healthy for you; it’s just a better alternative,” Rueckl said.
Rueckl has a strict no-minor policy but not all vape shops do. According to a Wisconsin youth tobacco survey, teens are using e- cigarettes 75 percent more than the national average.
“Let’s not introduce a new product that might normalize the active smoking and frankly no one really knows what’s in these e-cigarettes and so we encourage these local governments to start to pass laws that include e-cigarettes into their clean air policy,” said Sara Sahl from the American Cancer Society.
But for people like Fischer who rely on vaping, the proposed restrictions present an unwanted temptation….
City Already Has Ban On Public Smoking
Wednesday, November 19, 2014, 7:25pm
By Shamane Mills
Madison has had a smoking ban for a decade. Now, city alderwoman Lauren Cnare wants to expand it to include electronic cigarettes — devices that do not contain tobacco or emit smoke, but instead vaporize liquid nicotine. Cnare said the health effects of the devices aren’t clear yet.
“So this is sort of a pre-emptive move that says, ‘We don’t know. Let’s be prudent and protect people’s health by asking people to not use these devices in our indoor spaces that are shared,’” said Cnare.