Bangor- Many smokers have switched to electronic cigarettes for a healthier alternative, but there are concerns about how healthy they really are.
The potential risks to electronic cigarettes is not a new concern, but now representatives are working to make laws against them.
“This one is a very specific change in that it adds e-cigarettes, vaping devices, to the definition that includes cigarettes. For places that cigarettes are not allowed to be used, places like the state house, places like restaurants, places like beaches, playgrounds, places like picnic areas, e cigarettes will also be banned from those locations,” said Representative Jeff McCabe (D) of Skowhegan.
But how much do we really know about e cigarettes?
“With regard to secondhand exposure to vapor, none of us know right now…” said Christopher Ruhlin, owner of Herbal Tea and Tobacco Shop.
“We don’t know to what extent they might harm somebody,” said Patty Hamilton, the Public Health and Community Services Director in Bangor.
“Well the real problem with e-cigarettes right now is that they just haven’t been studied enough,” said Matthew DeRosby, a physicians assistant at the Eastern Maine Medical Center.
With the current lack of knowledge about e-cigarettes, the new question is, is it fair to make laws against something we don’t know much about?
“If they choose to regulate vapor the same way they regulate secondhand smoke, ultimately we will all work within those guidelines. We would like to see these decisions made on data and not a knee-jerk fear reaction to what some people seem to be enjoying,” Ruhlin said.
“I think it would be a good idea to contain e-cigarette users until we have that data to prove that it’s safe,” said DeRosby.
“I think we should air on the public health side of protecting children and people until we have more information,” said Hamilton.
A work session and vote about the bill will happen in the coming weeks.