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E Cigarette Ban Considered By State Senate

(WBEN/AP) State lawmakers are looking at whether to include electronic cigarettes in the state's indoor public smoking ban.  The Senate Health Committee is scheduled to hold a hearing on the matter Monday.

The panel will consider whether the existing ban on public indoor smoking should be applied to e-cigarettes and review current regulations on liquid nicotine. 

E cigarettes are  battery-powered plastic or metal devices that heat  a liquid nicotine solution, creating vapor that users inhale. Some models are disposable, and some are designed to be refilled with cartridges or tanks containing what enthusiasts call "e-juice." Some e-cigarettes are made to look like a real cigarette with a tiny light on the tip that glows like the real thing.

The committee is expected to take testimony supporters of increased regulations, including Dr. Andrew Hyland of Roswell Park Cancer Institute.

"There's reason to to think they could be significantly beneficial to public health. they aren't burning all the emissions, you aren't getting as much of the toxicants. however there are harmful chemicals that do come off of the vapor .. there's also reason to be concerned; we see a doubling of the youth uptake of these cigarettes over the past couple of years, there are toxic chemicals that come off the vapor .were concerned about the marketing and the way its being promoted... "

Hyland says that if e-cigarettes are being used as an alternative to smoking, by "50 year old adults" , he has far fewer concerns about it than if it becomes a gateway for youthful smoking, promoting nicotine use.

Kemp Hannon, the Nassau county Republican  chair of the NYS Senate Health Committee tells WBEN he expects the New York state legislature to begin considering a ban on indoor e-cigarette use, and a prohibition on the sale of e-cig "juice" refills, the nicotine liquid that is vaporized inside them.

There are also some tax bills being considered that would treat e-cigs the same as traditional tobacco products and tax them accordingly.

"We are taking a hard look at it, but with the federal Drug Administration asserting jurisdiction over E-cigarettes, we have a whole new ballgame,"   Hannon says.

The federal government wants to extend its oversight of tobacco to include cigars and e cigarettes among other tobacco products.  A Food and Drug Administration proposal issued last month  would ban sales to minors and require approval for new products and health warning labels.

Companies also would be required to register their products with the agency and disclose ingredients, among other things. Once finalized, the agency could propose additional restrictions on the products, such as flavor bans or marketing restrictions. Officials also are seeking public comment on whether the agency should treat premium, handmade cigars differently than machine-made cigars.

Electronic cigarettes are becoming a big business. The industry started on the Internet and at shopping-mall kiosks and has rocketed from thousands of users in 2006 to several million worldwide, with a choice of more than 200 brands. They are treated the same way as conventional cigarettes with an indoor smoking ban in Chicago and New York City.

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Locations : ChicagoNassauNew York City
People : Andrew Hyland
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