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Health

Health Advocates Seek To Expand Kansas Smoking Ban To E-Cigarettes

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National Institute on Drug Abuse, National Institutes of Health
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Kansans have gotten used to smoke-free public places--but there are now calls to make them vapor-free as well. 

Erica Anderson, a health promotion specialist for the Lawrence and Douglas County Health Department, wants the Legislature to add electronic or e-cigarettes to the statewide smoking ban.  

“We can certainly tackle this issue, get ahead of the eight ball, and make sure that our youth are protected from a product that does contain nicotine and could lead to a lifelong addiction to nicotine,” she says.

E-cigarettes use heat, but no flame, to vaporize a mixture of water, nicotine and flavorings. This allows users to puff out vapor instead of smoke. But Anderson says that vapor still contains dangerous chemicals.

Spencer Duncan, a lobbyist for e-cigarette shop owners, says public health advocates are jumping the gun. There’s little research on the effects of secondhand vapor, and his clients believe they’re selling a healthier alternative that can help people quit tobacco.

A new national study may be a factor in the upcoming debate. The study funded by the National Cancer Institute found that nearly 40 percent of young people who started using e-cigarettes moved on to regular cigarettes within a year.

Andy Marso is a reporter with the Heartland Health Monitor.