Legislators, business owners debate e-cigarette regulation

Sep 24, 2014

The growing popularity of electronic cigarettes may lead to new restrictions on where users can "vape" in Erie County.

Dr. Mark Travers (seated right), a research scientist at Roswell Park, appeared at an Erie County Legislature committee meeting on e-cigarettes.
Credit Chris Caya/WBFO news

The pros and cons of e-cigarettes were discussed by the Legislature's Health and Human Services Committee Tuesday. The devices use a battery powered heating element to vaporize a nicotine solution for inhaling or "vaping."

Roswell Park Cancer Institute researcher Dr. Mark Travers said e-cigarettes emit cancer-causing compounds and may increase health risks for users. Travers says exposure to second-hand vapor is also a concern.

"E-cigarette emissions include nicotine, akrolein, which is commonly used as a weed killer, formaldehyde and other chemicals," Travers said.

"While this exposure is less than traditional cigarettes these chemicals are still present. Just because it's a smaller amount of poison that is observed for cigarettes doesn't mean second-hand vapor is safe."
Among the opponents to restrictions is Paul Smith, production manager for Juicy Vapor.

"Our ownership group started the company so we can guarantee the products that are being used, and say, with a hundred percent certainty, we're using products that are generally recognized as safe," Smith told legislators.

Paul Smith of Juicy Vapor told legislators that e-cigarettes have succeeded in curbing tobacco smoking.
Credit Chris Caya/WBFO news

The industries top companies, he says, are members of the American E-Liquid Manufacturing Standards Association.

"We self-regulate at the highest level of standards. We are above food-grade preparation as far as quality, cleanliness, control, safety."

Unconvinced was Erie County Legislator Peter Savage. He plans on introducing legislation so people will know the concerns and risks of e-cigarettes.

"It's not about putting people out of business," Savage said in response to concerns from the e-cigarette industry.

It's about making sure that the public health and safety is protected. And that those of us, in this community, who do not want to be exposed to second-hand emissions because we are concerned, based on the science that we have studied, based on the some of the testimony we heard."   

E-cigarettes are already regulated by a number of counties across New York and several major U.S. cities.