Up in smoke

LIHUE — Some people are in favor of a new policy which prohibits electronic cigarette, or e-cigarette, use in state government buildings.

“I think it’s good,” said Leong Lim, a state worker. “I don’t smoke, but I don’t like the smell (e-cigarettes) emit.”

The Department of Health policy went into effect this month and is part of the state’s effort to keep workplaces and public locations smoke-free.

“Based on various tests, vapors or aerosols emitted from e-cigarettes contain nicotine and other carcinogens and toxic chemicals which are just as harmful as those in secondhand smoke of regular combustible cigarettes,” said Linda Rosen, DOH director. “It is important that consumers be aware that e-cigarettes are not healthier than regular cigarettes, for users, or for those surrounding them.

The new policy prohibits the use of e-cigarettes in enclosed or partially enclosed area such as offices, lobbies, lanai and covered walkways, and 20 feet from entrances, exits and windows. The policy mirrors the policy affecting combustible cigarettes that went into effect in November 2006, prohibiting tobacco products in places open to the public and places of employment.

A DOH release stated the ban could be a healthy example for private businesses.

“We anticipate smoke-free zones of other employers will also begin to include e-cigarettes to protect their employees, customers, and others in the public,” Rosen added.

E-cigarettes are marketed as healthier alternatives than cigarettes because the device is vapor, not smoke like real cigarettes.

Wil Shima of Ohana Smoke Shop said whether it’s smoke or vapor, users should be aware of their co-workers and surroundings.

“Vaping in offices is not professional,” Shima said.

A Hawaii County councilman’s bill, meanwhile, seeks to ban electronic cigarettes and vaporizers from Big Island beaches, parks and facilities.

But not everyone around Kauai agrees with the rule on keeping that out of government buildings.

“I think if it’s (smoke) not bothering anyone, people should be able to enjoy it,” said Kauai resident Victor Lawson. “There are too many laws, and this is one more. I am not a cigarette smoker, although I love a good cigar, and if people are going to be bothered, I’m not smoking it. I think we have too many laws that people don’t obey.”

Mary Joy Saniatan said she doesn’t smoke, but likes the policy because people need to respect others.

“I don’t smoke, but I think people should respect other people,” Saniatan said. “It’s a good policy because people who use e-cigarettes while conducting business appear unprofessional.”

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