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In Spite of Declining Smoking Rates, Health Groups Continue to Warn Against E-cigarettes

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.”

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Rep. Kolste Introduces Indoor E-Cigarette Ban

(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.

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