New York Moves Towards Total E-Cigarette Ban
First published by ASH (www.ash.org) on 30th April 2010, and no longer available on the ASH
New York Moves Towards Total E-Cigarette Ban // Unanimous 125-0 Vote Follows Email From ASH
The New York State Assembly has voted overwhelmingly 125-0 to ban e-cigarettes [e-cigs]; a product
which has already been banned in Australia, Brazil, Canada, Israel, Mexico, and New Zealand, restricted
in Finland, Malaysia, and Singapore, pending restriction in the UK as a drug, and the subject of law
suits by attorneys general in several states, says public interest law professor John Banzhaf,
Executive Director of Action on Smoking and Health (ASH).
The decision followed an email sent by Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) to New York's legislators
seeking to correct misinformation they apparently received from marketers and others. ASH previously
helped persuade New Jersey and Suffolk County, NY, to ban the use of e-cigarettes in no-smoking
ASH's email noted that the FDA, the only agency both authorized and qualified to evaluate whether
e-cigs are both safe and effective, has reported that e-cig use poses "acute health risks," that "the
dangers posed by their toxic chemicals . . . cannot seriously be questioned," and that e-cigs have
caused a wide variety of potentially serious problems "including racing pulse, dizziness, slurred
speech, mouth ulcers, heartburn, coughing, diarrhea, and sore throat." It ruled they are "illegal."
Virtually all of the major national and well-respected medical and antismoking organizations have also
voiced strong concerns about the risks posed by e-cigarettes, and urged restrictions on their sales.
These include the American Cancer Society, American Heart Association, American Lung Association,
Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, Americans for Nonsmokers' Rights, and the Association for the Treatment
of Tobacco Use and Dependence.
ASH also pointed out that the FDA, in its own words, "is concerned that electronic cigarettes, cigars,
or pipes may introduce young people to nicotine use which may lead to an increase in the use of
conventional tobacco products with well-known, adverse, health consequences. Additionally, it is
unclear what health effects these products could have on users or if misuse or product failure could
lead to nicotine poisoning or other serious adverse health consequences."
The FDA also warned that "conference participants stressed the importance of parents being aware of the
health and marketing concerns associated with e-cigarettes. It was stated that parents may want to tell
their children and teenagers that these products are not safe to use. . . . Of particular concern to
parents is that e-cigarettes are sold without any legal age restrictions, and are available in
different flavors (such as chocolate, strawberry and mint) which may appeal to young people. . . . In
addition, the devices do not contain any health warnings comparable to FDA-approved nicotine
replacement products or conventional cigarettes."
Although some users claim that the products helped them to quit smoking, ASH countered by citing the
FDA's own findings: "at this time, we are not aware of any data establishing electronic cigarettes,
cigars, or pipes as generally recognized among scientific experts as safe and effective. . . . There
may be a perception among some users that electronic cigarettes, cigars, or pipes are safer
alternatives to conventional tobacco products. There may also be a perception that these products are a
safe and effective means to quit smoking conventional forms of tobacco. However, FDA is not aware of
any scientific data to support those perceptions."
Michael Eriksen, ScD, the former director of CDC's Office of Smoking and Health and an FDA adviser
warned: "I have seen no evidence that people switch from tobacco cigarettes to e-cigarettes or other
smokeless tobacco products. If you look at how smokeless products are marketed, they are sold as
something to use at times you can't smoke. The implication is you will increase nicotine exposure, not
ASH also raised concerns not yet addressed by the FDA: the extent to which the vapor exhaled by e-cig
users -- including propylene glycol (a respiratory irritant used in antifreeze and known to cause
respiratory tract infections), nicotine (a deadly and addictive drug which can help trigger heart
attacks), and other substances the FDA labels as "carcinogens" and "toxins" -- could threaten the
health of nearby nonsmokers.
ASH cited a typical reaction from a sensitive bystander: "My first exposure to e-cigarettes was last
year in a hospital. Smokers were made to go outside but 3 e-smokers plus 2 staff were using the
e-cigarettes inside . . . I have lupus and the vapor irritated my nose, eyes, throat, and chest, plus
the nicotine was making me feel nauseous so there must have been significant quantities in the
ASH, America's first antismoking organization, and the one which started the nonsmokers' rights
movement by first getting smoking restricted and ultimately banned on airplanes and in many public
places, believes that nonsmokers should not be subjected to the vapors emitted by e-cig users unless
and until they have conclusively been shown to be completely safe, even to children, the elderly, those
at increased risk, and those with special medical problems.
Public interest law professor John Banzhaf of ASH, argues that there is no possible justification for
subjecting the great majority of Americans who are nonsmokers to the totally unnecessary risks posed by
a mixture of toxins and carcinogens. Even if e-cigarettes did help some smokers quit -- which the FDA
denies -- "it's your monkey, keep him off my back."
PROFESSOR JOHN F. BANZHAF III
Professor of Public Interest Law at GWU,
FAMRI Dr. William Cahan Distinguished Professor,
FELLOW, World Technology Network, and
Executive Director and Chief Counsel
Action on Smoking and Health (ASH)
America's First Antismoking Organization
2013 H Street, NW
Washington, DC 20006, USA
(202) 659-4310 // (703) 527-8418
Additional press release by J. Banzhaf re. passive vaping: