Marathon County Health Professionals Call For E-Cigarette Regulations

Marathon County AOD Partnership Says Ingestion Of Nicotine Vapor Is Unsafe

The market for e-cigarettes has expanded rapidly over the past few years. Photo: Ramsey Mohen (CC-BY-NC-ND).

Health care professionals and addiction specialists in central Wisconsin are sounding the alarm over the proliferation of e-cigarettes and the ingestion of nicotine vapor.

The meeting of the Marathon County Alcohol & Other Drugs Partnership had a simple message: E-cigarettes are not safe, and should be regulated like other tobacco products.

“Nicotine is as addictive as cocaine or heroin, and it is not a healthy thing for your body,” said Dot Kalmon, the coordinator of the Central Wisconsin Tobacco Free Coalition. “If an adult man ingested a teaspoonful of pure nicotine, it would kill him.”

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Kalmon says the vaping devices are not being used to wean people off of tobacco, but are instead being used to turn a new generation into addicts.

“They’re being marketed on the Internet and billboards and radio and TV, all of the places that you cannot now market regular cigarettes,” she said. “And that’s … because they’re unregulated.”

Because they’re unregulated, the nicotine vapor can be flavored like candy, which is illegal for regular cigarettes.

“Cotton candy, there’s apple pie, there’s chocolate – any type of fruit flavor,” said Kalmon. “And the number one reason kids say they would not use tobacco products is because of the taste. And all of these candy flavorings overcome that argument.”

Dot Kalmon says the health care community got caught by surprise by the e-cigarette and vaping craze, which has now become a big business.

“Anytime you can make a lot of money, and we’re into the billions of dollars now, we’re going to see these products,” she said.

It took years for the government to regulate smoking. The health care professionals here say it needs to move more quickly on the smokeless alternative.

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