Lawmakers Considering Expanding Smoking Ban to Include E-Cigarettes

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State lawmakers are considering a bill that would further restrict public smoking and clarify that those restrictions also apply to electronic cigarettes.

Senate Bill 990 would bar smokers from lighting up outside if they are within 25-feet of a doorway, window or building vent. It would also end an existing exemption regarding smoking in the workplace by covering all employers, except home-based businesses in which the owner is the sole employee. Currently businesses with five or fewer workers are exempt.

The Connecticut Restaurant Association raised some questions about the proposed changes. The group, which represents more than 500 restaurants across the state, noted that customers often smoke outside of restaurants, usually close to the entrance.  If that practice is banned, who would be responsible for ensuring compliance, the group asked in a letter to lawmakers.

Public health proponents hailed the measure. \”Moving tobacco use 25 feet away from all doorways and windows of properties defined as tobacco-free helps to protect the health and wellbeing of anyone entering/exiting these establishments,\’\’ John O\’Rourke, the coordinator of a smoking-cessation program, told the panel.

\”Studies have shown that a person with an acute heart disorder is at increased risk of a cardiac event with minimal exposure to secondhand smoke. By moving tobacco use further away from buildings, we improve the health of everyone,\’\’ O\’Rourke said.

But it was the proposed addition of e-cigarettes to a list that includes cigarettes, cigars and pipes that has drawn the most controversy. The measure was the subject of a hearing Friday by the legislature\’s public health committee.

The state Department of Public Health maintains that the use of e-cigarettes is already restricted under existing laws, but commissioner Jewel Mullen said the department wants the restriction codified in the bill to counteract the claims of manufacturers who say their product is safe.

\”The impact of e-cigarettes on health is not yet known,\” Mullen testified. \”With regard to their use indoors, we cannot assume that they are safe without scientific evidence, despite manufacturer claims to the contrary.\”

Use of e-cigarettes is growing and several users wrote in urging lawmakers to reject the bill. They argued that using an electronic cigarettes is preferable to lighting up.

\”Tobacco cigarettes deliver many dangerous chemicals but electronic cigarettes deliver nicotine without those dangerous chemicals or offensive odor,\” Jason Perry of the Rockfall section of Middlefield wrote in testimony presented to the public health committee. \”I often use my electronic cigarette indoors and due to the lack of odor and the fact that my e-cigarette looks nothing like a cigarette, it is rarely even noticed.\”

Tanya Jackisch of Wallingford told lawmakers in written testimony that she\’s been smoke-free for a year and a half, thanks to e-cigarettes.

\”I know I speak for many smokers when I say I earned my right not to smell like an ashtray,\’\’ Jackisch wrote.


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5 thoughts on “Lawmakers Considering Expanding Smoking Ban to Include E-Cigarettes

  1. Fake Thomas Jefferson

    E-cigarettes don’t burn. It is water vapor. We are now so crazy in this state that by tomorrow we will be banning the nicotene laced gum also. Maybe Mayor Bloomberg will be elected Governor here after Malloy is shown the door and we can really bring on the crazyness.

  2. Amit

    He is probably getting bribed from the tobacco companies. He just needs to talk to people who have been using ecigs for some time to understand how much better they are for self and people around.

  3. MrLogical

    O’Rourke and the rest of his nattering nicotine nannies need to quite trying to police every inch of the planet. Enacting this asinine bill into law would result in something nearly unenforceable and would only increase the burdens that restaurants and other businesses have to endure to do business in the state.

    Enough, already.

  4. Tanya Jackisch

    While I’m very happy my testimony was chosen to be apart of the article, I would like to quote my ACTUAL testimony instead of what the Hartford Courant claimed I said.

    “I know I speak for many when I say I earned my right to no longer smell like an ashtray. This legislation says I should, it says I’m a smoker when I’m not, it has disregard for my health. I don’t want the 2nd hand smoke and neither do other vapers. This legislation says vape my smoke-free electronic cigarette with the smokers.”

    I am not a smoker. A former smoker yes, and I have sympathy and I once felt that horrible burden however I do not smoke and my testimony was speaking for vapers, not smokers. For those of us who waited 16 hours to speak more respect should be given to the accuracy of our testimonies and the message we were conveying. People who use electronic cigarettes are “vaping”, there is a vapor exhaled. No smoke is involved whatsoever in the practice of using e-cigarettes.

  5. John R. McCommas

    Why not ban bacon next? Ban dounuts and pie. Make people be force-fed kelp for their own good. Ban sugar and cream in coffee and make people eat spinish or else they lose their house. Good idea huh?

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