Should e-cigarettes be banned indoors in MI?

By | June 18, 2015

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Indoor use of e-cigarettes has been banned in Washtenaw County — the southeastern Michigan county that includes Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti. E-cigarettes there will now be subject to the same state laws that are placed on cigarettes.

Right now, at least 40 states prohibit the use of e-cigarettes inside. Michigan is not one of them — but should it be?

Yes, the Kent County Health Department says.

“It seems very likely there will be adverse effects associated with e-cigarettes. It’s only a matter of time,” said Adam London with the Kent County Health Department.

“I don’t notice it. A co-worker of mine smokes it and we don’t notice it in the building at all,” non-smoker Madison Edwards said.

Joseph Elias, who also doesn’t smoke, disagreed.

“Without having proper data to tell me if it’s bad or good for my health, quite frankly I don’t want smoke going in my face,” he said.

People may divided on the issue, but the Kent County Health Department is not.

“We believe they are a health risk,” said London.

E-cigarettes have only been around for a few years, so it’s still not clear what — if any — health problems they could cause.

“We can’t say a whole lot conclusively about their health risk. However, we can say based on the ingredients that we do know are contained therein — things like chromium and nickel and zinc and formaldehyde — that those are not things that are healthy to inhale,” London said.

“I think it’s safe,” said Dan Lawitzke, who owns Mister-E-Liquid, a Grand Rapids-based e-cigarette liquid producer.

Lawitzke said he has been vaping for five years and has seen not changes in his health.

I think the big misconception is we don’t know what’s in it. We absolutely know what’s in it. We make it,” he said.

(The label on a liquid used in a e-cigarettes.)
(The label on a liquid used in a e-cigarettes.)

All of his e- liquids list four ingredients: vegetable glycerin, which comes from plants and is used as a sweetener; propylene glycol, a liquid alcohol that is used as a solvent in antifreeze and  food among other things; nicotine; and natural flavors.

The chromium, nickel and zinc the health department is concerned about comes from the device it self, not the liquid. Lawitzke said he has not run any test on  the devices he makes.

E-cigarettes are currently completely unregulated in the state of Michigan.

The Michigan legislature previously passed legislation that would have restricted selling e-cigarettes to minors, but Gov. Rick Snyder vetoed that measure in January. He said he wanted them to be treated the same way tobacco products, which the bill would not have done.

In May, the state Senate again passed a similar bill restricting the age of purchasers but not classifying the products as tobacco. That bill has not yet moved past the House Committee on Regulatory Reform.

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