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CHEYENNE, Wyo.—The Cheyenne City Council heard public testimony on Monday night as they considered adding electronic cigarettes to the local smoke-free law. Cancer advocates with the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) testified in support of the ordinance, sponsored by Councilman Jeff White. The ordinance passed its first vote by a vote of 8-2 with two councilmen absent. A final vote will take place on August 26.
The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) advocates for 100% smoke-free laws that include e-cigarettes to protect workers and the public from harmful secondhand smoke exposure and to create communities that support tobacco-free living.
Using e-cigarettes in public undermines the public health benefits of strong smoke-free laws that protect everyone from all secondhand smoke, including e-cigarettes. E-cigarette aerosol is not harmless. It can contain harmful and potentially harmful chemicals including nicotine, heavy metals like lead, ultrafine particles that can be inhaled deeply into the lungs, and a chemical called benzene that’s found in car exhaust.
"There are serious questions about the safety of inhaling the substances in e-cigarette aerosol," said Jason Mincer, Wyoming government relations director for the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network. "Studies have shown that using e-cigarettes can cause short term lung changes and irritations, and it isn’t just people who use e-cigarettes that are at risk. People who don’t use e-cigarettes are also at risk through secondhand exposure to toxicants in the aerosol."
ACS CAN will push the Council to strengthen the definition of e-cigarettes so that devices that do not contain nicotine are included to help with enforcement of the ordinance. ACS CAN also urges the Council to close a loophole so that hotels and home health agencies are covered under the amended smoke-free law.
This local effort comes amid skyrocketing rates of e-cigarette use among teens with nearly 30% of Wyoming high schoolers currently using e-cigarettes. Nationwide, e-cigarette use has increased rapidly among youth, rising 78% in the past year. Research also shows that youth and young adults who use e-cigarettes are more likely to use other tobacco products, including traditional cigarettes. In fact, e-cigarettes have driven a 36% rise in youth tobacco product use over the last year, and Wyoming teens already smoke cigarettes at almost double the national average.
Strengthening Cheyenne’s smoke-free ordinance to include e-cigarettes helps address the youth epidemic and curb tobacco use, while also reducing secondhand smoke exposure and protecting the right of Cheyenne residents to breathe clean air.
"We know that young people are highly sensitive to normalization and often perceive what is harmful based on what they see in their environments," said Mincer. "Allowing e-cigarettes to be used indoors is not only a danger to worker health, but it encourages use and continues to normalize this dangerous behavior."
About ACS CAN
The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) is making cancer a top priority for public officials and candidates at the federal, state and local levels. ACS CAN empowers advocates across the country to make their voices heard and influence evidence-based public policy change as well as legislative and regulatory solutions that will reduce the cancer burden. As the American Cancer Society’s nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy affiliate, ACS CAN is critical to the fight for a world without cancer. For more information, visit www.fightcancer.org.