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Alachua County Commissioner Proposes E-cigarette Regulations

This picture shows the components of an e-cigarette. The device emits vaporized nicotine instead of tobacco.
This picture shows the components of an e-cigarette. The device emits vaporized nicotine instead of tobacco.

Alachua County Commissioner Robert Hutchinson is drafting an ordinance that will place new regulations on e-cigarettes.

According to the Medical News Today website, e-cigarettes are devices that emit doses of vaporized nicotine, as opposed to regular cigarettes that emit tobacco smoke.

The potential restrictions would include banning the sale of e-cigarettes to minors, as well as limiting the use to designated smoking areas and placing e-cigarretes behind counters in stores.

A public forum on e-cigarettes, organized by Tobacco Free Alachua, will take place Friday at the Alachua County Library District Headquarters at 2 p.m. Hutchinson will be a keynote speaker and will explain the policies that he hopes will be in place through the draft ordinance.

Hutchinson said he believes e-cigarettes should not be looked at any differently than other tobacco products solely because of a legal loophole.

“We should be treating e-cigarettes the same as we do cigarettes,” Hutchinson said.  “We should not be discriminating against e-cigarettes just because this product uses a vapor instead of smoke.”

According to Hutchinson, Alachua is a “trend-setter” in the sense that many young people in Florida come to the county for college. Because of this fact, Hutchinson said he feels it is crucial to have regulations put into place to steer young people away from the use of any type of tobacco products, including e-cigarettes.

He also said counties like Alachua trying to pass ordinances regulating e-cigarettes will “put pressure on the legislature and congress to get on board, because they’ve moved very slow in this area.”

Hutchinson said this issue belongs in the hands of state and federal regulators, but if or when this changes over, counties are responsible for making the community aware of this issue.

Currently, there is a proposed bill in the Florida Senate that will classify e-cigarettes as an alternative nicotine product or nicotine dispensing device and will prevent the sale to minors.

Some people aren’t convinced that the new classifications are necessary. In a previous article, WUFT News reported:

Dr. Barry Hummel is communications director at the Tobacco Prevention Network of Florida. He said the state’s push for the classification of e-cigarettes as an alternative is an unnecessary new category that deepens the complexities of the issues with regulation and classification of e-cigarettes.

Andrew Romero, the tobacco prevention specialist at Tobacco Free Alachua, said that there wasn’t enough research and data from his sector yet to back up claims of whether or not e-cigarettes are harmful.WUFT also reported:

With increasing number of brand differentiations and the lack of regulations, Romero said it becomes difficult to formulate a general consensus on e-cigarettes since no one really knows exactly what’s in them.

“All the different manufacturers make them according to their own specifications,” he said. “From brand to brand, you may find different chemicals and consistencies of nicotine. When a company says it has a safe amount of nicotine, you are basically just taking their word on it because there is absolutely no oversight.”

About Cristina Mendez

Cristina is a reporter for WUFT News and can be contacted by calling 352-392-6397 or emailing news@wuft.org.

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  • If this elected official would show anywhere near what seems like compassion for the health of the citizens he has sworn to serve, he would spend more time trying to outlaw what kills 50% of all smokers (since 1965, 19,200,000 people have died prematurely from smoking related diseases), LETHAL burning tobacco cigarettes. To use fear mongering (maybe or might are not science, they are scare tactics) as a basis for regulation, on a product that has been enjoyed by millions of Americans about to eclispse the sales of Nicotine Replacement Therapies, and the sales of Big Tobacco and amazingly in a dying economy has created 100’s of thousands of jobs, e-cigarettes have not killed or caused harm, with any provable health issues, though they are proven to be 99% safer than smoking by scientific studies (that many people can’t understand how someone in a leadership position with the responsibility to the people he represents, hasn’t read or investigated any scientific information so amply available!) (http://www.casaa.org a real non profit group has a wealth of information easily accessed that do validate the many unbiased scientific studies that are factual. Regulators posing as concerned overseers are actually hiding the fact that they are benefactors of some of the richest lobbying by Federally sponsored Tobacco Control groups, that in the worst nightmares never dreamed smokers would help themselves to a healthier alternative that they caught on to after 2 billion dollars in sales says something about what smokers the users of e-cigarettes want. This overtly burdensome legislative attempt is really Tobacco Control out-of-control. Electronic Cigarettes are non-tobacco, non-drug delivery devices, an adult consumer product no more dangerous than a cup of strong coffee, If you allow this infringement of people’s choices and freedoms we all lose (remove the maybe’s and the might’s)!) This Council member is either purposely obscurring the facts as many do with hidden but real conflicts of interest agendas with huge amounts of money as their bargaining chips, bribery to discredit a marketplace just to obtain grants from Tobacco Control groups with huge expense accounts padded by Big Pharmaceutical Companies. Big Pharmaceutical is desparately and fearfully threatened as a result of their own lack of interest in helping humanity or science and the lowest end of spectrum all smokers who have themselves discovered e-cigarettes without the Medical Industry Complex who shows less and less of anything that resembles healthcare, towards the fate and well being of 20% of all American smokers who die off 400,000 every year. 100 Doctors in France have come out in favor of e-cigarettes and many more respected people including Bush’s Surgeon General, these are not quirks it’s published news worthy information that even a 12 year old can read. The European Parliment, refused to be bribed by Big Pharmaceutical and did not vote for medicalisation, they listened to the 100’s of thousands of ex-smokers who have successful used e-cigarettes as a gateway from smoking either quitting or substantially reducing their smoking. How many more lives must be lost due to people who are holyer than thou while making a good living doing nothing more than that!

  • castello

    E-cigs are 99% safer than smoking. No, you don’t treat them the same as smoking! The smoke is what is harmful. Vapor is not harmful at all in comparison.

  • pdubya1

    If we outlawed the off-gassing from this commissioner’s hubris we’d all be safer. From tyranny.