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E-Cigarette Users Outraged Ahead Of Indoor Vaping Ban

AP File Photo

AP File Photo


HOST INTRO: New York City’s public e-cigarette ban goes into effect at the end of this month and some city e-cigarette users are outraged. One user has filed a lawsuit to stop the ban. Chris Mathias reports on how the jury is still out on e-cigarettes.

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You don’t smoke an e-cigarette. You vape it.

AMBI: A vaporizer vaping. Fade under narration.  

That’s the sound of a vaporizer. It’s bigger and fancier than the e-cigarette than you can buy at your local bodega but it functions the same way.  It heats up a liquid nicotine solution so that it becomes a thick vapor that you inhale. Brooklyn Vaper is a Williamsburg shop sells vaporizers.

AMBI: Bring up sound inside Brooklyn Vaper.

Owner Ilona Orshansky has bottles and bottles of nicotine solutions called e-liquids, which come in lots of different flavors.

ORSHANSKY: Turkish, traditional, Dunhill, banana bread….  (Fade under narration) (0:07)

Orshansky smoked cigarettes for 12 years. She credits vaping with helping her quit, which she thinks has been a very healthy change.

ORSHANSKY: I no longer cough. I no longer wheeze. I can smell better. I feel better when I work out. I just all around feel like a healthier person. (0:09)

Orshansky says many of her customers started vaping in order to quit smoking. One customer, who didn’t give her name, said that now that she uses e-cigarettes, she can’t even smoke normal cigarettes anymore.

CUSTOMER: Like I had a cigarette today because I ran out of the liquid. Just one. I used to smoke a pack a day. Then, I just had one, and I feel like s**t. (LAUGHS) (0:15)

Russell Wishtart says so many e-cigarette users are able to quit smoking. That’s why they’re so passionate.

WISHTART: All of the sudden, they found something that works really well that all of the sudden changes their life, so they’re very passionate about it because they want to tell the world. (0:10)

Wishtart is a vaping advocate. He goes to vaping events and hosts a podcast all about vaping. Wishtart also filed a lawsuit last week seeking to strike down New York’s indoor e-cigarette ban. The suit contends that the City Council overstepped its authority when it added e-cigarettes to the city’s smoking ban. Wishtart thinks legislators are unfairly targeting e-cigarette users, many of whom are just trying to quit smoking.

But anti-smoking advocate Dr. Stan Glantz thinks what Wishtart tells people about e-cigarettes is nonsense.  There’s only been one study on whether e-cigarettes help people quit smoking. It showed e-cigarette use to be a little more effective than a nicotine patch. Glantz says that study’s data was flawed, and that you can’t forget that e-cigarettes keep people addicted to nicotine. He thinks many e-cigarette users only vape when they aren’t allowed to light up a real cigarette.

GLANTZ: In fact the big adverse health effect of e-cigarettes is most likely the fact that it keeps people smoking regular cigarettes. (0:09)

Dr. Glantz is the director of the Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education at UC San Francisco. While there’s no data to actually validate Glantz’s concern, there’s also little data to validate most arguments surrounding vaping. Take the debate over secondhand vapors. Glantz is a supporter of New York’s indoor e-cigarette ban.

GLANTZ: Because it’s not harmless water vapor. E-cigarette users emit an aerosol of ultrafine particles, nicotine, volatile organic compounds, some carcinogens, and usually some metals. (0:13)

But Glantz also concedes that a) secondhand vapor is likely much less toxic than secondhand smoke and b) there’s simply no research on the long-term effects of secondhand vapor.

There’s also no research on the long-term health effects of vaping itself. E-cigarettes, after all, have only been widely used for the last 5 or 6 years. Research is further complicated by the fact that e-cigarettes are unregulated by the federal government. Different companies use different recipes for their e-liquids.

The Food and Drug Administration has announced that it will begin to regulate e-cigarettes, but has yet to say when or how.

E-cigarette advocates and critics might both agree that a little regulation would be nice. Orshansky, the Brooklyn Vaper owner, says she’s all for making safer products, including e-liquids, which some people refer to as juices.

ORSHANSKY: AbsoIutely. I think there needs to be industry standards. Regulation on how juice bottles are presented, the ingredients inside juice bottles. I’m all for those kinds of things.  (0:10)

Local governments across the U.S. aren’t waiting on the FDA to make regulations.

After New York passed its ban, Chicago, Philadelphia, and LA followed suit.

While Wishtart’s lawsuit is making its way through court, he’s planning acts of civil disobedience when he goes before city health regulators.

WISHCART: I very much look forward going to the health committee and using an electronic cigarette right in front of them. (0:06)

New York’s e-cigarette ban goes into effect on April 28.

Chris Mathias, Columbia Radio News.

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