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Apr 29 - May 07, 2014

County Administration Seeking to Ban E-Cigs; Vapers Vow a Fight

By Craig Tretiak

April 29, 2014

Vapor is not smoke but water.

Niagara County officials are planning to ban the use of electronic cigarettes on county property, the Niagara Falls Reporter has learned. The move, spearheaded by County Manager Jeffrey M. Glatz and human resources head Peter Lopes, was discussed at length at a meeting of county department heads and public works officials in late March. The use of e-cigarettes, also known as "vaping," is widely credited with helping people to quit smoking.

According to documents received by the Reporter, Lopes has drafted a policy banning the use of the popular "e-cigs," which emit vapor, rather than smoke, at all county sites, including the Department of Motor Vehicles. The proposed policy would also require county workers and visitors to county facilities who use the devices to remove themselves from the facilities much the same as tobacco smokers must do.

Lopes, as head of human resources, has been a key player in the county's ongoing labor battles with its unions, all of which are operating without contracts, and which have seen their pay increase "steps" frozen for more than two years.

Aaran Schrader, assistant manager of Majestic Vapors, which boasts locations near county government buildings in both Lockport and Niagara Falls, says this policy will do more harm than good. "Vaping has provided people with a helpful and healthier way to get away from smoking," Schrader said. "One of the advantages to vaping was that our customers no longer had to hang with the smokers and be tempted by their old habit. Now they will have to stand with all the smokers outside." Schrader also noted that restrictive vaping rules often drive nicotine users back to tobacco.

"I was down in New York City a couple weeks ago. Everyone there still smokes," Schrader said. "You didn't see anyone vaping. Instead, they were just filling their lungs up with tar as they stood there smoking cigarettes. And it seemed like an awful lot of people were smoking." In New York, the City Council approved a ban on the public use of e-cigarettes shortly before Christmas at the urging of outgoing Mayor Michael E. Bloomberg. Bloomberg made previous efforts at restricting the size of pop cups and bottles and has an ongoing war against private gun ownership.

Vaping's biggest selling point is that if you take away the tobacco leaves, the paper, and the thick, acrid smoke, and replace it all with nicotine-infused water vapor, you eliminate the tar—the cancer-causing compound linked to millions of lung cancer deaths and emphysema. E-cigs mix and ignite three ingredients: propylene glycol, a compound used in asthma inhalers and humidifiers; vegetable glycerin, an organic compound derived from vegetable oil and used as a food sweetener; and nicotine. Although the last ingredient, nicotine, is what makes tobacco smoking addictive, nicotine is not what causes cancer. It is the tar and other poisons found in tobacco There is no tar with e-cigs, nor is there any second hand smoke.

"There are some people with misconceptions, but these are pretty common household ingredients," Schrader said. "It's not tobacco." Schrader did caution his fellow "vapers" to not unnecessarily provoke non-smokers. "You need to be respectful," he said. "For some of these non-smokers, it's the visual aspect, coupled with a lack of understanding. Someone who's never been a smoker doesn't want to stand next to a vaper at a concert or whatever. So, if you're going to vape, be cognizant of what you're doing." At another downtown Lockport vaping shop, Vape Wright, salesman Al Strianese was perplexed.

"It's ridiculous," Strianese said. "It's water vapor. It already comes out of your mouth when you breathe. They put up signs in the parks about smoking, and we hear they're going to put up signs that say 'no vaping.' I think it's wrong." Strianese noted that "for people looking to quit, vaping really helps."





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