Wisconsin News

E-cigarette debate about to heat up in Wisconsin

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) - The recent ban of e-cigarettes in all public areas in New York City has many questioning the law in Wisconsin.

The state's smoke free ban went into effect in 2010 before e-cigarettes became popular.

Under current law in Wisconsin, e-cigarettes can be used in places where traditional smoking is banned. To make sure that continues, State Senator Glenn Grothman (R-West Bend) introduced a bill that would make e-cigarettes exempt from the 2010 smoking ban in Wisconsin.

"We still have about a million people who smoke here in Wisconsin and we know 70 percent of them want to quit," said La Crosse Co. Health Educator Judi Zabel.

Zabel says e-cigarettes have become a popular solution for people to quit smoking. "The e-cig has a lithium battery inside that heats up the nicotine, the nicotine comes in a pellet. You insert a new pellet and then you have a mouth piece. It will heat that nictoine pellet for you to draw in and then expel vapor," said Zabel.

Supporters of e-cigarettes say they're healthier than traditional cigarettes. However, those claims haven't been supported by the F.D.A. The F.D.A. has adopted the e-cigarette as a tobacco product but has not ruled on the safety of the product or the long-term effects.

Zabel says, "I expect any time now to hear something from the FDA regarding the e-cigarette, again, you don't want them to move too fast, we are all waiting and clamoring for an answer, we don't want them to move to fast and be reactive."

The President of La Crosse County Tavern League, Mike Brown, says he hasn't seen many people use e-cigarettes in the area. "When the smoking ban first came upon us, we had people try to use it in the bar and trying to get used to it, but most of them prefer to go outside and have a cigarette outside."

Brown doesn't think an exemption for e-cigarettes will change business for bars and restaurants in La Crosse.

Zabel says more research needs to be done before the state decides to completely exempt them from the smoking ban. "We just need to slow down and wait until we have enough evidence to prove that this is either safe and effective or not safe and effective. The quick fix is not necessarily the best fix."

A public hearing on e-cigarettes in Wisconsin could come as early as next month.


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