County executive joins Roswell Park Cancer Institute, American Cancer Society, American Lung Association, tobacco-free groups in supporting public health
Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz was joined Friday by Commissioner of Health Dr. Gale Burstein, representatives from the Roswell Park Cancer Institute, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, American Lung Association, the Erie-Niagara Tobacco Free Coalition and Amherst Tobacco Free Steering Committee, the Asthma Coalition of Erie County, and concerned citizens as he signed Local Law Int. 9-2, concerning the use of electronic cigarettes in public places.
Erie County Legislator Peter Savage, D-3rd District, was the lead sponsor for the new law, which will prohibit the smoking of e-cigarettes and like products in public places where traditional forms of smoking are already disallowed pursuant to New York State Public Health Law Section 1399-o.
"I am supporting this proposed law in order to protect public health and better ensure that residents who do not use e-cigarettes do not have to breathe the second-hand vapors from those who do," Poloncarz said. "This new law does not restrict an individual's ability to purchase or use electronic cigarettes, or to enjoy them in establishments that sell these devices, but it does provide the public with the same protection from second-hand vapors that they have from second-hand smoke.
"In Erie County, the passage of the Clean Indoor Air Act and ensuing smoke-free laws has created healthier spaces in our parks, public buildings, sports arenas, workplaces and restaurants. Now is the time to include e-cigarettes in clean air laws, and I support this effort to create a healthier Erie County."
Consumers use e-cigarettes, which are largely unregulated, to inhale electronically heated vaporized liquid nicotine, and exhale as with a traditional cigarette. Studies have shown that, in addition to nicotine, the aerosol in these devices can include formaldehyde, acrolein, heavy metals and other chemicals that are released as by-products after use. The long-term effects of e-cigarette usage are unknown.
Savage said, "This law protects the public's absolute right to breathe clean air, and it does so in a responsible and reasonable manner. I wish to thank County Executive Poloncarz for signing this very important public health measure into law."
Burstein said, "According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, electronic cigarette use in public indoor areas passively expose nontobacco users, including children and pregnant women, to nicotine and other potentially harmful ingredients. Integrating electronic cigarettes into Erie County's smoke-free laws allow all Erie County residents the opportunity to breathe clean indoor air."
"The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network thanks County Executive Poloncarz and the Erie County Legislature for passing and enacting this important public health measure," said Hillary Clarke, ACS CAN associate director. "The new law will help protect the health and well-being of people who work in these locations. It will also again demonstrate that tobacco use is not a socially acceptable behavior."
"County Executive Poloncarz is taking a step today to protect the health of the people who live and work here in Erie County," said James Marshall, Ph.D., senior vice president for cancer prevention and population sciences at Roswell. "Research conducted at Roswell Park Cancer Institute has proven that e-cigarettes are not emission-free, and that these emissions may pose health risks to nonusers. This is a good policy, informed by both the latest research and the very real and reasonable concerns of the people of Erie County."
Anthony Billoni, director of Tobacco Free WNY, added, "We thank Erie County leaders for maintaining the integrity of the successful Clean Indoor Air Act of New York State. Citizens should not be put in harm's way from any type of tobacco-related emission."
"We're grateful that Erie County residents will no longer be exposed to potentially unsafe secondhand emissions from electronic cigarettes at bars, restaurants and workplaces," said Jeff Seyler, president and CEO of the American Lung Association of the Northeast. "This is a commonsense step forward and we applaud the County Legislature and County Executive Poloncarz for putting public health first. With local governments both downstate and upstate taking action to protect their residents from the dangers of e-cigarettes, it's clear that it is time for a statewide law that restricts the use of e-cigarettes where smoking is already prohibited."
The new law will become effective after being filed with the New York secretary of state.
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