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County exec takes aim at e-cigs

Wednesday, April 23, 2014 - Updated: 11:16 PM

By NICOLE ANTONUCCI

For the C-S-E

FONDA -- Montgomery County is one step ahead of the federal government in regulating the use of electronic cigarettes.

In his third executive order, county executive Matthew Ossenfort has prohibited the use of the battery-powered devices in county buildings due to potential health risks to the public.

Electronic cigarettes heat a liquid nicotine solution, and create a vapor that is inhaled.

"There are a lot of unknowns about electronic cigarettes, and we wanted to make sure that we had something in place to make sure that it's not happening in county buildings," Ossenfort said. "I don't think this should be going on in county offices."

Ossenfort declined to comment on whether employees were actually using the electronic cigarettes in county offices.

The issue has begun to pop up throughout the area. Albany County passed a similar ban in February, and New York lawmakers are considering what could be the first state ban.

A congressional report was released recently that underscored the need for regulations, citing concerns about the lack of age restrictions and no uniform warning labels.

The Food and Drug Administration has yet to set marketing and product regulations for electronic cigarettes, so anything goes.

However, Ossenfort said he didn't want to wait any longer.

"I think this is a rather-be-safe-than-sorry issue," he said.

According to Ossenfort's order, when electronic cigarettes are placed to the lips of its user and drawn on, it releases a vapor resembling smoke. This vapor contains nicotine and may also contain irritants, genotoxins and carcinogens.

County residents should not be exposed to the addictive and potentially harmful substances in the vapor while on county property, the order states.

The order, however, only applies to county employees, and Ossenfort said he plans to talk with county legislators about adopting a resolution that would ban electronic cigarettes in county buildings entirely.

"I have to talk further with the legislature on what our policy is regarding electronic cigarettes, and our smoking policy in general," Ossenfort said. "You are going to hear more about this in the upcoming months."

     

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