SRHD to Include Vaping Devices Under Smoking in Public Places Law
Spokane Regional Health District (SRHD) is working to include vaping devices under its county-wide enforcement of Washington state’s Smoking in Public Places (SIPP) law. The 2005 law protects patrons and workers from secondhand smoke exposure in areas frequented by the public. The inclusion of vaping devices, and protection from the secondhand aerosol they create, comes in the form of a resolution for consideration by the agency’s governing body, SRHD’s Board of Health. If passed, use of a vaping device will be prohibited in all of the same places where smoking is prohibited including public places, places of employment, and within 25 feet of doors, windows, and ventilation intakes.
Public Health Concerns
Unlike cigarettes and other tobacco products, the devices are not regulated at the state or federal level (U.S. Food and Drug Administration). This means there are no regulations on the manufacturing, marketing, packaging, labeling or ingredients of vaping devices and the liquid solution used in them. The lack of regulation, absence of evidence on long-term health impacts, and concern for public safety guide SRHD’s proposed resolution. Of primary concern to SHRD are:
- Secondhand vapor: Evidence indicates that the vapor produced by vaping devices is not safe. Vapor has been found to contain nicotine, heavy metals, ultrafine particulates, toxic chemicals and cancer-causing agents. The vapor can also contain ingredients, such as propylene glycol and flavorings, which are recognized as safe for use as food additives, but have not been deemed safe for inhalation. When vaping devices are used, bystanders are exposed to the toxic chemicals and carcinogens through secondhand vapor. The long-term health impacts of inhaling this vapor are unknown. Vulnerable populations, including pregnant women, children and people with cardiovascular conditions, may be at elevated risk.
- Unknown Substances: Vaping devices can be used to consume any liquid, including liquid THC, the active ingredient in marijuana. Typically, the liquid solution contains nicotine and is referred to as “e-juice.” It is impossible for a bystander to know what product is being used in a vaping device, thus exposing them to unknown substances and particulates.
- Rising Youth Initiation: In 2014, 26 percent of high school sophomores in Spokane County reported using a vaping device in the past 30 days. This is over twice the rate of sophomores who reported smoking a cigarette in the past 30 days in the same year . Preventing youth from addiction to nicotine is critical to continuing to drive down tobacco use. Youth are vulnerable to nicotine addiction and emerging research indicates that the use of vaping devices by youth may ultimately lead them to smoke cigarettes.
Vaping Devices and Cessation
Vaping devices are not an FDA-approved tobacco cessation method and have not been proven to help people quit tobacco. The best way to quit smoking is to use a combination of nicotine replacement therapy and counseling. For free help to quit tobacco, patients can call 1-800-QUIT-NOW or visit srhd.org for a list of tobacco cessation resources in Spokane County.