The Connecticut legislature has approved a bill prohibiting the use of electronic nicotine delivery systems, vapor products, and similar devices in the same places smoking is prohibited. It is awaiting the governor’s signature.
Here are excerpts from what a number of witnesses, both pro and con, told the Public Health Committee about HB 6283 in written testimony for a recent public hearing. Access to all the written testimony at the hearing — a large volume — is available here.
Executive director, New England Convenience Store Association:
NECSA supports common-sense regulation of nicotine delivery products such as Connecticut’s existing ban on the sale to minors. But we must respectfully express our concern regarding both the proposed definition of these items as “tobacco products” as well as the provisions banning the sale of flavored nicotine products.
We believe that these products are fundamentally different from conventional tobacco products: they are not lit, do not generate smoke, and do not contain actual tobacco-only nicotine derived from tobacco. Subjecting these products –which are essentially alternatives to conventional tobacco products — to the same regulations and tax structure is, in our opinion, inappropriate. In addition, banning the sale of certain types of these products based upon their flavoring characteristics would not only take away a consumer choice from adults, it would negatively impact many Connecticut retailers and send business elsewhere. We ask that you not move forward with these provisions.
Program Coordinator and Substance Abuse Prevention Specialist
Southeastern Regional Action Council, Norwich
E-Cigarettes are not a healthy alternative to Cigarette use. I work directly with youth in a few settings, and the attitudes they convey from their peers, is that E-cigarettes are safe and have no dangerous chemicals. This attitude is incorrect, yet the information that is out there is limited. I have found that many of these products contain varying cocktails of chemicals to initiate the vaporizing of the nicotine in these delivery systems. Most electronic cigarettes contain about the same amount of nicotine as a regular analog cigarette. A recent study was published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that e-cigarette users were exposed to 5 – 15 times more formaldehyde than cigarettes smokers.
Without the warnings on this product, the information regarding the dangers of these products remains limited.
Rates of youth cigarette use have steadily declined to 6 percent in our region in 2013 but our recent tracking of E-cigarette use has a baseline of 11 percent in Southeastern CT. We have surveyed nearly 20, 000 youth, from 7-12th grade in our region from 2006-2014. Currently, 6 percent of our youth have said “yes” to using a cigarette at least one time, throughout their lifetime. This percentage has steadily declined from its highest rate of 14 percent in 2009. However, we have just added e-cigarettes to our survey and our regional baseline data begins at 11 percent of our youth have used an E-cigarette at least one time.
Pure Vapor Bliss, LLC, Rocky Hill
… I firmly oppose HB 6283.
I support age restriction and already age verify customers. Beyond being extremely unfavorable to businesses and consumers, Bill 6283 seeks to ensure adult consumers continue smoking combusted cigarettes through its well-intentioned but exceedingly misguided requirements.
Classification of vapor products as tobacco is inappropriate given that the FDA has recognized and stated that regulation under the Family Smoking and Tobacco Control Act (FSPTCA) of 2009 is inappropriate and not proportional to the harm caused. The FSPTCA was enacted to address the blatant lies and death and disease caused by Big Tobacco; a wholly different industry than the one that has pioneered the vapor market and given rise to many independent businesses in Connecticut.
Regulating tobacco products is a direct response to the known harms they cause whereas vapor products do not contain tobacco and have been determined by experts to be 95 percent less harmful.
Mitch Zeller, the director for the Center for Tobacco Products at the FDA has stated publicly that for smokers unable to unwilling to quit, vapor products are the preferred alternative.
Regulation, classification and treatment of vapor products should be approached from a position of endeavoring to protect the public health from death and disease caused by combusted tobacco rather than ensuring that through increased taxation, regulation and operational burdens, adult smokers are no longer incentivized to switch to an alternative.
Dr. Pat Checko
Board member, MATCH Coalition (Mobilize Against Tobacco for Connecticut’s Health).
I am here to express our support for these bills and to applaud the Public Health Committee on your efforts to regulate the use of this latest controversial product intended to lure users into believing they are safe (or at least safer than cigarettes) and can help you quit smoking. I hope that by the end of my testimony you will agree that the industry’s current claims are the same smoke and mirrors they used for almost 50 years to deny that cigarettes were dangerous to your health. …
The cornerstone of the industry’s argument against regulation and classification as a tobacco product is that it contains no tobacco – just nicotine in liquid form….
Although we have developed technologies that can create many naturally occurring products synthetically, nicotine is produced by tobacco and is, therefore, a tobacco product.
Sadly, because of the aggressive marketing to downplay this aspect of ENDS, many of our vulnerable youth have no idea that these vaping devices even contain nicotine….
Using the old tactics of the 80s and 90s, the Masters of Doubt have maintained that electronic smoking devices release “harmless water vapor.” However, water is not an ingredient in ENDS!
What is advertised as a vapor is actually an aerosol that contains nicotine, ultrafine particles and toxins. The compounds that have already been identified in mainstream (MS) or secondhand (SS) ESD aerosol include: Acetaldehyde (MS), Benzene (SS), Cadmium (MS), Formaldehyde (MS,SS), Isoprene (SS), Lead (MS), Nickel (MS), Nicotine (MS, SS), N-Nitrosonornicotine (MS, SS), Toluene (MS, SS)….
Remember, it is the fact that secondhand smoke from cigarettes can harm others who are exposed to it that is the basis upon which our smoke free laws stand.