TO THE EDITOR:
The UNC Nicotine Dependence Program works with thousands of people to fight the powerful addiction to nicotine while facing a host of obstacles, including tobacco industry misinformation and insurance company denials of medications that help minimize withdrawal and support behavioral change.
We strongly support the Orange County Board of Health’s efforts to implement common sense regulation on e-cigarette/vapor use in public spaces.
While adults are free to make decisions harmful to themselves, exposing others to that harm is not part of our social contract. E-cigarette vapor contains harmful chemical constituents. Over 400 manufacturers produce these products with different formulations.
Until regulation exists to ensure safety, the BOH serves the public by addressing concerns of the vast majority of people who do not wish to be exposed to nicotine vaping. The tobacco and vaping industries (increasingly one and the same) spend billions annually in marketing, much of it designed to appeal to youth.
All citizens, and especially youth, pregnant women, people with asthma or heart disease and other high risk groups, have the right to clean air in public spaces.
Our Orange County BOH, appointed by elected county commissioners, serves as a policy-making and adjudicatory body, “charged to protect and promote the public health of Orange County.” Mandated by state law, its members are health care professionals (www.orangecountync.gov).
They are not, as your recent editorial pejoratively suggests, bureaucrats. Research by our Tobacco Prevention and Evaluation Program and national data show that adoption of smoke-free ordinances can increase business profitability, contrary to tobacco industry claims that restaurants and bars’ business would suffer.
What has worked most effectively to reduce tobacco use in recent decades is not education and social pressure alone, but measures that integrate educational, clinical, regulatory, economic and social strategies.
UNC Nicotine Dependence Program
Prof. Leah Ranney
UNC Tobacco Prevention and Evaluation Program
To get the day's news and headlines in your inbox each morning, sign up for our email newsletters.