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Editorial: Until more is known, ban indoor e-cig use

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In the 1950s, James Dean, Sinatra and Bogie were the kings of cool.

Tough guys. Macho men. Ladies’ men.

They were smoking – literally.

And the guys weren’t alone.

Glamour queens like Audrey Hepburn, Sophia Loren and Ava Gardner made cigarettes chic.

Who knew?

Ah, the things we learn – or don’t – in 50 or 60 years.

These days there’s a “healthier” way to take nicotine.

But it’s looking like a smokescreen.

The electronic cigarette is a personal vaporizer that runs on batteries and simulates tobacco smoking.

You puff, you get nicotine.

It hurts nobody, the e-cig industry claims, because it’s merely a solution that contains nicotine heated to a vapor.

But, the American Association of Cancer Research presented a study that showed e-cig folks suffered “strikingly similar” negative effects as people who smoke traditional cigarettes. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reported that the devices – and liquid nicotine – have led to a steep rise in calls to poison control centers and can cause injury to eyes and skin.

And in late April, the FDA proposed a sweeping set of rules to crack down on what officials call the “wild, wild West” of e-cigs, including banning the industry from making health-related claims.

In 2010, New Jersey was wise enough to ban e-cigs from indoor use in public places. In the past few months, Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco – and Santa Fe – were among cities adding e-cigarettes to their smoke-free indoors laws. Albuquerque banned the sale of e-cigs to minors, but not their indoor use.

“What’s the harm in vapor?” the industry says.

That was the same question about tobacco smoke 50 years ago.

At least until reputable scientific research can determine whether exposure to e-cig vapor is safe, the Albuquerque City Council and New Mexico Legislature should consider banning indoor e-cig use and their sale to minors.

Or in another 50 years, we could be saying, “Who knew?”

This editorial first appeared in the Albuquerque Journal. It was written by members of the editorial board and is unsigned as it represents the opinion of the newspaper rather than the writers.

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