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Sedgwick County Officials Mulling Over Public E-Cigarette Use

Ecig Click, flickr Creative Commons

At an informal public meeting on Monday morning, Sedgwick County Commissioners discussed the safety and public use of e-cigarettes.

Sedgwick County Commissioner Jim Howell asked two advocates to debate whether e-cigarettes are harmful to the community.

Kimber Richter, a doctor at the University of Kansas Medical Center, said e-cigarettes contain a number of dangerous chemicals and should be kept out of public spaces. She says studies that show e-cigarettes are a safe alternative to tobacco are flawed.

“Although there’s a lot of information coming out about e-cigarettes, a lot of that information is industry funded. And we have to realize that industry-funded research is very biased,” Richter said.

She added that manufacturers are putting anything they want into the liquid that is vaporized by e-cigarettes and that the product is not regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Richter compared the technology to cigarettes in the 1950’s, when little was known about the harmful effects of tobacco use.

According to Richter, this also means that the dangers of secondhand consumption of e-cigarettes is not yet known.

Sean Gore spoke in favor of e-cigarette use. Gore is president of the Oklahoma Vapers Advocacy League and owns numerous e-cigarette outlets in Oklahoma City.

He says the medical community hasn’t presented clear evidence that e-cigarette use is harmful to either the user, or those around them.

Commissioner Howell agreed, saying he opposes further regulation without that evidence. He added that e-cigarettes had been successful in getting people to quit tobacco.

“The fact is, people are making a better choice (using e-cigarettes) and are probably saving a lot of human suffering and death,” Howell said.

Other commissioners didn’t express strong feelings about the issue, but Jim Howell says he hopes to look into formal e-cigarette policy in the future.