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[PRESS RELEASE] UPCOMING NEW ORLEANS E-CIGARETTE BAN HURTS LOCAL BUSINESSES, PUBLIC HEALTH

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

New Orleans Electronic Cigarette Ban Hurts Local Businesses, Public

Louisiana Association of Electronic Cigarette Retailers says superstition, rather than science, led to their inclusion in tobacco ordinance

NEW ORLEANS, Jan. 20, 2015 – On Thursday, January 22, the New Orleans City Council will vote on a proposed anti-smoking ordinance.  That ordinance includes electronic cigarettes, which has many members of the public fuming.

Electronic cigarettes are devices which heat a liquid suspension of nicotine and flavoring to provide the user with a “smoke-like” experience absent most of the toxins found in cigarettes.  Numerous studies have shown them to have little, if any, adverse health effect, and while they are not approved by the FDA as a smoking cessation device, studies in the medical journals Lancet and Addiction have shown that most users of the devices are former smokers.

Louisiana Association of Electronic Cigarette Retailers President Chris Flowers indicated that since the committee meeting on the ban, Latoya Cantrell, the ordinance’s sponsor, has agreed to language which would bring e-cigarettes in line with traditional tobacco products, allowing their use inside “vape shops”- but he says this doesn’t go nearly far enough.

“We thank the Council for including the basic exemptions we need to keep our businesses open,” said Flowers, “but the medical and economic information about these products- and their profound differences from tobacco cigarettes- wasn’t considered until the draft bill had already passed out of committee.  New Orleans has an obligation to consider the public health and economic impacts of these products rather than simply announcing, “it looks like a cigarette, so we’ll treat it like one.”

Over the course of two days of public testimony last week, dozens of electronic cigarette retailers, their employees and users spoke out against inclusion in the smoking ordinance.  A total of four members of the public argued to include “e-cigs” in the ban: three paid activists from the American Heart and American Lung Associations who had traveled to attend, and one local resident.  The vast majority of testimony was on the harms of second-hand tobacco smoke, which LAECR contends is a completely different substance than electronic cigarette vapor.

LAECR emphasizes that it does not want a “free pass,” rather that legislation specific to electronic cigarettes is required.  Flowers said, “Right now, this is a self-regulating industry.  We implement health and safety protocols voluntarily.  We would be glad to work with the City in codifying those standards and establishing new laws specifically addressing the true nature of the product.  In doing so, New Orleans could be one of the first cities in the world to accept the potential of this life-changing technology, rather than demonizing a product they don’t understand.  The Council’s current stance discourages smokers from exploring alternatives and keeps businesses from selling vapor products, ultimately costing New Orleans lives and livelihoods.”

LAECR also takes issue with the failure to include an exemption for future “vapor bars,” akin to the hookah and cigar lounges currently in the ordinance.  While New Orleans doesn’t currently have any such bars, “Tobacco has a 2,500 year lead in the marketplace,” said Flowers, “yet electronic cigarettes have captured substantial market share since 2009.  Banning the possibility of this type of development merely denies the city potential tax revenue provided by responsible adults.”

Contact:
Anthony Kolesa
Vice President, Media Relations
Louisiana Association of Electronic Cigarette Retailers

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