Donald Potts opened his presentation to the City Council Monday by starting up an electronic cigarette.
“What I’m doing is perfectly legal here,” said Jones, who then rattled off several countries, including Canada, and several large cities, including Chicago and New York, where it would not be legal, and noted that Independence and Missouri have no e-cigarette regulations.
“I would kind of like to change that,” he said.
Potts, a member of the Advisory Board of Health, gave the Council a presentation outlining the issues regarding e-cigarettes and provided a sample ordinance he advocates that would restrict the use of e-cigarettes to the same places as listed in the Independence Clean Air Act, as well as restrict the sale to and possession for minors.
Most e-cigarettes consist of a battery, heating element or vaporizer, mouthpiece and liquid nicotine cartridge. The heating element warms the liquid to produce a vapor, which is then inhaled and exhaled, known as “vaping.”
“It has been touted as an aid to help people quit smoking, but it’s not approved by the FDA,” Potts said. “Anybody can go to a kiosk in the mall and purchase it. I know some places (in Independence) are pretty good about not selling to those under 18, but they can get them off the Internet.
“People will use them when they have to,” he said, such as in non-smoking areas, “but then they go back to regular cigarettes.”
In Potts’ information packet he noted 23 states, including Kansas, that have banned sale of e-cigarettes to minors.
The refillable nicotine cartridges present some large health risks, Potts said. Cartridges contain up to 20 milligrams of nicotine, and fatal doses of nicotine can be as low as 10 mg for children. The refill containers hold up to 7 grams.
Furthermore, cartridges can be filled at home with any substance the user chooses such as “hash oil,” a derivative of marijuana. Naturally, this poses a problem for law enforcement.
“You have no idea what’s in there,” Potts said.
Potts also noted that the big tobacco companies have bought many of the small manufacturers of e-cigarettes and might claim they don’t advertise to minors, but he finds that hard to fathom when there are available flavors like “bubble gum.”
“There’s 90 different flavors of nicotine,” he said.
“I’m getting more and more concerned about this. I’m concerned about the kids. If they get hooked on nicotine, they’ll go to cigarettes. It’s been shown.”
Mayor Don Reimal said he would like to see the city explore the issue, and City Manager Robert Heacock responded that he will have the law department review the possibility of such an ordinance.
“We will be happy to work on it,” Heacock said.