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The Consumer Advocates for Smoke-Free Alternatives Association points to studies that show e-cigarettes can help people quit. Another, published in the journal Tobacco Control, concluded that “e-cigarettes as a harm reduction strategy among smokers unwilling to quit, warrants further study.”
Gregory Conley, legislative director for the group, flew in from New Jersey to testify against the new ordinances, saying that they “discourage smokers from switching to lower-risk alternatives.”
Studies have shown “conflicting” results, said Ehlinger. One recent study, in which e-cigarettes were shown to help people quit, was highly supervised. He worries that somebody just going out and buying an e-cigarette, without knowing how to control the levels of nicotine, is “really problematic.”
But even if they’re helping smokers quit, there is growing worry that they might be encouraging nonsmokers to start. Ehlinger would like to see studies on whether e-cigarettes act as a gateway to other tobacco products. “We have millions of students nationwide using something that delivers an addictive product,” he said. “I don’t think that’s a good thing.”
If the medical community later comes to the consensus that e-cigarettes don’t cause harm and help people quit, Duluth can reverse its restrictions, said Julsrud, the council member.
“And if the doctors find it’s not safe,” she added, “then we did the right thing by being cautious.”
Staff writer Michael Rand contributed to this report.
Jenna Ross • 612-673-7168
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