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In March, Allegheny County joined 15 states and 660 other localities across the country in restricting e-cigarette use in public places via two ordinances. One prohibits e-cigarette use in indoor public places where smoking is already prohibited. The other limits e-cigarette use by food service employees during work hours.

E-cigarette use (sometimes referred to as “vaping”) is a public health concern for three major reasons. These reasons threaten to slow 50 years of progress in reducing smoking rates.

First, e-cigarette chemicals themselves are harmful to users.

Second, secondhand vapors often contain nicotine, in addition to other harmful chemicals. These vapors expose bystanders to nicotine, one of the most addictive substances on the planet.

Third, the indoor use of e-cigarettes makes it seem normal again to smoke inside.

While e-cigarette emissions may be less harmful than secondhand smoke, there is no scientific evidence that they are safe. E-cigarette “clouds” are not water vapor. This “vapor” is the aerosolized byproduct of heated propylene glycol, glycerin, any number of flavoring chemicals and, often, nicotine. The nicotine used in vape liquids is derived from tobacco. It contains some of the same carcinogens and toxicants as traditional cigarettes.

Regardless of whether e-cigarettes look like traditional cigarettes, using these products mimics the act of smoking. Seeing e-cigarette use may trigger smoking cravings in others. A growing body of research has shown that teens who vape are more likely to smoke cigarettes in the future.

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