East Hawaii News

Health Department Bans E-Cigarettes From Its Offices

December 23, 2013, 6:41 PM HST
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The state Department of Health has banned the use of e-cigarettes at all DOH offices and other properties.

The policy, which goes into effect Jan. 1, is the first of its kind in Hawaii.

“Using electronic smoking devices threatens our smoke-free laws designed to protect the public from the harmful effects of tobacco and nicotine,” Lola Irvin, DOH Tobacco Settlement programs manager said today in a press release. “While electronic smoking devices are touted for being smoke-free, they have not been proven to be safe.

“These devices release nicotine and other chemicals and carcinogens into the environment, leaving those around them exposed to the potentially harmful vapor — just like second-hand smoke,” Irvin said. “Electronic smoking devices also confuse the public who expect a smoke-free environment and erode the strong belief in our Hawaii Smoke-Free Workplace and Public Places Law.”

Irvin said the electronic smoking device policy was one of the last policies signed by the late Director of Health Loretta J. Fuddy, who died after the plane she was on was forced to make a water landing soon after taking off from Kalaupapa on Molokai.

“Director Fuddy believed that as the Department of Health, it is our responsibility to set the standard for health for the people of Hawaii,” Irvin  said. “Today, we are taking a stand to protect our workers and our public. We hope to inspire others to take a similar position and join us in carrying out her legacy.”

In September, the attorneys general for Hawaii and 38 other states petitioned the US Food and Drug Administration to classify e-cigarettes as tobacco products and include them in restrictions on advertising and ingredients.

E-cigarettes were included in a ban on sales of tobacco products to those under the age of 21 recently passed by the Hawaii County Council.

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