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Your Health
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Public Health Regulations Struggle to Keep Up with Fast-Growing Vaping Industry

[Noozhawk’s note: This article is the third in a series on the use of electronic smoking devices in Santa Barbara County. Click here for the first story and click here for the second.]

The fast-growing vaping community is under fire on multiple fronts, and organizations have formed as quickly to help protect the hobby against a flood of legislation seeking to regulate products and use.

“It’s pretty appalling, frankly, because these devices are potentially lifesaving for people,” said Julie Woessner, executive director and board president of the Consumer Advocates for Smoke-Free Alternatives Association, an advocacy organization for the right to use e-cigarettes.

The all-volunteer organization with 117,000 members touts the “5 Things You Can Do Right Now to Save Vaping!”

Those ideas include calling the White House, contacting legislators, registering to vote, joining CASAA and submitting a testimonial to the CASAA website.

Last summer, Santa Barbara County joined many jurisdictions throughout California to exclude vaping from places where smoking already is prohibited.

Efforts like these to restrict or regulate the electronic devices draw repeated “calls to action” and “local alerts” from vaping-related organizations.

Meanwhile, those opposed to vaping say the laws don’t go far enough. Among other restrictions, anti-vaping organizations want to see the legal age to purchase or use tobacco and vaping products raised to 21 from 18.

Raising the age limit would provide a big boost in the quest to have a tobacco-free generation, according to Edwin Weaver, executive director of Fighting Back Santa Maria Valley.

Vaping proponents contend the age should remain the same, noting the age to enlist in the military is 18.

Prohibiting vaping where smoking already is banned is logical, Weaver said.

“I would love to see us tax these products locally,” he added.

Yet, Woessner said consumers object to cash-strapped government agencies taxing them to balance budgets.

Foes and fans of the vaping industry are awaiting the results of proposed new Federal Drug Administration regulations that would classify vaping devices as tobacco products.

If approved, vaping supporters say, the reclassification would destroy the industry.

“It’s pretty horrifying,” Woessner said.

Weaver said he would like to see moratorium on vape shops until the federal government regulates the industry and deems the equipment safe to use.

The World Health Organization, the State of California and multiple medical associations has called for a ban on the products, regulatory oversight and taxes, Weaver said.

The lack of taxes means tobacco cessation programs don’t get a boost from sales of vaping products, she noted.

Electronic smoking devices are now banned from checked baggage on planes or being charged on board an aircraft, under new orders from the Transportation Department.

“We know from recent incidents that e-cigarettes in checked bags can catch fire during transport,” Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said in a statement last year. “Fire hazards in flight are particularly dangerous. Banning e-cigarettes from checked bags is a prudent safety measure.”

Passengers may continue to carry e-cigarettes for personal use in carry-on baggage or on their person but may not use them on flights, Transportation Department officials said. The current ban on smoking of tobacco products on passenger flights includes the use of electronic cigarettes, federal officials add.

Officials recently announced another initiative to ban electronic smoking devices from public housing complexes.

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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