Yellowstone County proposes rule to expand smoke-free air law to include electronic cigarettes

Proposed Rule Would Prohibit E-cigarette Use Where Smoking is Prohibited and Prohibit Smoking, E-Cigarette Use within 30 Feet from Buildings

June 21, 2017

Billings, MT - June 21, 2017 - The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) commends Riverstone Health, which creates public health policy for Yellowstone County, for proposing a new rule to its existing smoke-free air law to ban the use of electronic cigarettes anywhere smoking is prohibited. Known as Public Health Rule #7, the proposed rule would also prohibit smoking including e-cigarette use within 30 feet of entrances, windows and ventilation systems of public and commercial buildings.

ACS CAN advocates for comprehensive smoke-free air laws that protect all workers and the public from the harmful effects of secondhand smoke exposure and to create communities that support tobacco-free living. Cancer policy experts and volunteer advocates will testify in support of the rule at Riverstone Board of Health’s public hearing on Wednesday, June 21.

The use of electronic cigarettes should be prohibited in all public places, including workplaces, restaurants and bars, to protect against secondhand smoke exposure to nicotine and other potentially harmful chemicals in e-cigarette aerosol.

“E-cigarette aerosol is not harmless. It can contain harmful and potentially harmful ingredients like nicotine, metals and volatile organic compounds that can be inhaled deeply into the lungs,” said Bill Underriner, ACS CAN board member and president of Underriner Motors in Billings, who will testify in support of the rule. “Both e-cigarette users and nonusers face potential health risks, with nonusers at possible risk from secondhand exposure to toxicants in the aerosol.”

Prohibiting use of electronic cigarettes in all smoke-free workplaces also ensures that the enforcement of existing smoke-free laws is not comprised and the public health benefits of these laws are not undermined.

Comprehensive smoke-free laws protect everyone’s right to breathe smoke-free air, reduces exposure to secondhand smoke and lessens the acceptability of smoking. By making it socially unacceptable to smoke, fewer people are likely to start smoking, which is especially true among youth. Current smokers are also more likely to quit.

In 2005, Montana legislators passed the state’s Clean Indoor Air Act, prohibiting smoking in enclosed public areas. Montana’s smoke-free air law was instituted before electronic smoking devices were on the market, and ACS CAN urges the Board of Health to act now to protect nonusers from e-cigarette aerosol exposure.

“We’re also concerned e-cigarette use could normalize smoking because some e-cigarettes are manufactured to look like traditional cigarettes,” said ACS CAN Montana Government Relations Director Kristin Page Nei. “We’ve worked so hard to make it socially unacceptable to smoke in public, and we shouldn’t throw that away and put our health at risk.”

E-cigarettes are now the most common tobacco product used by teens. In Montana, 30 percent of the state’s high schoolers use e-cigarettes. Tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable death, killing more than 1,800 Montanans yearly. It also causes roughly 28 percent of all cancer deaths in Montana.

Currently, 10 states and 615 localities nationwide restrict e-cigarette use in smoke-free venues. Five Montana counties – Carbon, Sanders, Lewis & Clark, Granite and Powell – have expanded their smoke-free laws to include e-cigarettes. Yellowstone County would be the largest county in Montana to take this critical public health action.

The community can discuss this proposed rule at a public hearing on Wednesday, June 21, at 5 p.m. at Riverstone Health, Lil Anderson Center first floor conference room, in Billings.

ACS CAN, the nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy affiliate of the American Cancer Society, supports evidence-based policy and legislative solutions designed to eliminate cancer as a major health problem. ACS CAN works to encourage elected officials and candidates to make cancer a top priority. ACS CAN gives ordinary people extraordinary power to fight cancer and make their voices heard. For more information, visit

# # #

More Press Releases AboutSmoke-free, Tobacco Control, Montana

Media Contacts