As of right now, that depends upon where you try to use them. Electronic cigarettes are not currently covered by North Carolina’s Smoke-Free Restaurants and Bars Law (S.L 2009-27).
According to a statement found at www.SmokeFree.NC.gov, “The electronic cigarette is a relatively new product that was not considered when this law was being drafted. An e-cigarette is a cigarette-like device that does not meet the current definition of smoking in this new state law, which is ‘the use or possession of a lighted cigarette, lighted cigar, lighted pipe, or any other lighted tobacco product,’ so their use is not prohibited under the new law. Businesses have the authority, however, to prohibit the use of these products within their business.”
Erin Balzotti, media relations coordinator for New Hanover Regional Medical Center, said, “New Hanover Regional Medical Center does not allow the use of electronic nicotine delivery systems, or any tobacco products, on any of its campuses.”
Balzotti asked one of NHRMC’s physicians about the e-cigarette’s threat to people’s health. She said, “According to Noah Pierson, M.D., a family medicine physician with NHRMC Physician Group, electronic cigarettes can contain nicotine and toxins, but the long-term health effects of electronic cigarettes are unknown at this time.”
Most electronic cigarettes use a rechargeable, battery-operated heating element to vaporize the nicotine supplied by a replaceable cartridge. The nicotine is often dissolved in propylene glycol, a colorless liquid, commonly used in medical inhalers.
E-cigarettes are manufactured to look like real cigarettes, cigars, pipes, pens or USB memory sticks. With no tobacco or smoke involved, use of the devices is known as “vaping” because users inhale the nicotine-laced vapor.
In theory, by isolating nicotine, e-cigarettes may have fewer chemical risks than regular cigarettes.
In a report recently published in The Journal of Public Health Policy, it was reported that the levels of harmful chemicals associated with electronic cigarettes were similar to levels found in nicotine patches and hundreds of times lower than those of cigarettes.
And even though some studies have declared the devices to be safe, a U.S. Food and Drug Administration report found levels of carcinogens and toxic contaminants significant enough to be deemed worthy of concern. As there is currently no regulation, e-cigarette cartridges may contain undisclosed chemicals that may prove to be more toxic than tobacco smoke.
Expect to hear more about the health effects and attempts at regulation as more is learned about the electronic cigarettes.
For more information, go to the Frequently Asked Questions section at www.SmokeFree.NC.gov.
UPDATE: The New Hanover County Board of Health wants e-cigarettes regulated and their health effects evaluated. Read the story here.
- JOHN PEASPANEN
INVOICE: $20/ no mileage
Date posted: February 6, 2013
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