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Grassroots Change and e-cigarettes in USA Today

February 10, 2015

Source: “States racing to regulate e-cigarettes,” Liz Szabo, USA Today 2/7/2015

The American Cancer Society has found itself in a surprising position: opposing state proposals to make it illegal to sell e-cigarettes to minors.

The cancer society doesn’t want kids to use e-cigarettes, but it objects to what it calls “Trojan horse” legislation – bills that appear good for public health but that could addict more people to nicotine and roll back progress against clean air– says Cathy Callaway of the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network. Several health groups have campaigned against e-cigarette bills around the country because of concerns about their health effects and potential to make smoking seem normal again.

… Five states have passed laws that forbid cities approving stricter ordinances, according to a January report in the medical journal Tobacco Control.

That could stifle community action around e-cigarettes, says Mark Pertschuk, director of Grassroots Change, a network of public health movements. He notes that most clean-air laws began as local ordinances before gaining enough traction to be passed statewide...

Pertschuk, the former president of Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights, says states don’t need to wait for more evidence to regulate e-cigarettes like tobacco.

“When we started really fighting the tobacco industry on smoke-free air in the mid-1980s, it was an incredibly hard fight. I believe we had less evidence about secondhand smoke then than we do today about e-cigs,” Pertschuk says. “One of the things the tobacco industry did 30 years ago was confuse the science. They found out that confusion was more effective than outright denial.”

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