A New Jersey lawmaker is starting a real fight over fake cigarettes. State Assemblywoman Connie Wagner wants to ban electronic cigarettes in public spaces. There’s no tobacco and no smoke, but e-cigarettes look a lot like the real thing. The battery-powered devices heat up liquid chemicals to deliver a puff of vapor and a nicotine fix.
Smokers use e-cigarettes to satisfy cravings where smoking is banned or shunned. Brian Culwell is president of SmokeStikUSA.
Culwell: People are addicted to the physical habit, to the oral fixation, to the hand to mouth, and our product delivers that. You’re essentially getting a vapor with tobacco flavoring in it or menthol flavoring in it.
Culwell says the SmokeStik brand doesn’t contain nicotine but most e-cigarettes do.
Temple health policy expert Jennifer Ibrahim says electronic cigarettes are not a safe alternative. She says preliminary tests found some of the same carcinogens in e-cigarettes that are found in tobacco brands. The FDA is considering whether the government can regulate the devices under the new smoking prevention law.
Ibrahim: There’s no regulation on the dosage, so when you are smoking one e-cigarette brand to the other, you don’t know the dose of nicotine that you are getting, and that’s really problematic as well.
Ibrahim says there are many unanswered questions about e-cigarettes. Culwell says e-cigarettes help smokers cope.
Culwell: We don’t suggest that our product is going to cause them to quit smoking. But what we do is, we provide something for them for when they are sitting in a public space that they can use so that they’re not anxious or nervous or fidgeting because a cigarette is not convenient at that time or not legal.