Sedgwick County Commissioner to Propose Harmful Policy Change

Commissioner Howell recently declared that he supports the use of electronic cigarettes for smoking cessation. Most recently, he has requested that local vaping shops ask customers to submit testimonials about how they successfully quit smoking by using electronic cigarettes. He plans to add these letters of support to his proposal in November to allow electronic cigarette use in all County-owned buildings. His claims that electronic cigarettes are more successful than FDA-approved nicotine replacement therapies (NRT’s) to help people quit smoking are a misrepresentation of antiquated, unreliable research from over 10 years ago. Current studies demonstrate very successful cessation by people who use a combination of cessation medications with FDA-approved NRT’s (patches, gum, or lozenges) and counseling.  New studies also show emissions from vaping devices contain both nicotine and cancer-causing chemicals that are easily inhaled by anyone in the vicinity of the user. By encouraging people to use electronic cigarettes in County buildings, he is placing non-users at unnecessary risk. Do you want to be exposed to these chemicals when you renew your car tags, pay your property taxes, or attend a wedding at the courthouse?

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The studies and “testimonials” that Commissioner Howell is referencing do not take into account that e-cigarettes do not treat nicotine addiction. Most people who use these devices for cessation either continue to use them indefinitely, use the e-cigarette in combination with traditional cigarettes (dual use), or return to smoking because they never address the chemical addiction. Claims of “nicotine-free” by manufacturers of these products have been proven false because production is not regulated. Nicotine is a harmful substance all by itself and can lead to serious health issues, such as heart disease. Not to mention, nicotine-related poisonings have had a dramatic rise within the last few years, and the American Association of Poison Control Centers reports over 2,400 e-cigarette related nicotine poisonings since January of this year. Does Commissioner Howell really want to open up the County to this kind of liability issue at the expense of the taxpayers?

The American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), which has been in effect for almost 70 years and is comprised of trained, respected healthcare professionals from all over the United States, recently made a formal statement regarding the use of electronic cigarettes for tobacco cessation. The group stated that the “current evidence is insufficient to recommend vaping devices for tobacco cessation in adults”. The AAFP recommends the use of FDA-approved medications along with behavioral counseling and FDA-approved nicotine products, such as the patch, gum or lozenge. Electronic cigarettes are not FDA-approved. The AAFP also specifically discouraged the use of e-cigarettes for pregnant women because of potential harm to the unborn child. Commissioner Howell has been presented this information by a member of TFW’s Medical Advisory Council, and yet, he persists.

Please contact the Board of County Commissioners to stop this harmful campaign and let them know that you do not want electronic cigarettes allowed in County-owned buildings.

FIRST DISTRICT – Dave Unruh dave.unruh@sedgwick.gov or @DaveUnruhSedgCo

SECOND DISTRICT – Tim Norton tim.norton@sedgwick.gov or @TimNortonSC

THIRD DISTRICT – Karl Peterjohn karl.peterjohn@sedgwick.gov or @KarlPeterjohn

FOURTH DISTRICT – Richard Ranzau richard.ranzau@sedgwick.gov

FIFTH DISTRICT – Jim Howell jim.howell@sedgwick.gov or @Howell4KS

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