After listening to a local radio talk show host protest the proposed Minnesota laws banning them in public spaces where regular cigarettes are currently banned, I had to call in to protest. Unfortunately, this was about a minute before a hard break at the top of the hour, and I didn't get a chance to express myself completely. When I got home, I shot off an e-mail to him to complete the thought, hopefully giving him something more to consider. The text follows:
I'm the caller who had about 30 seconds to protest letting e-cigs be used in public spaces. Nicotine disrupts my cardiac rhythms. I've never smoked, so it's all second-hand exposure.
In my own home, I can request that nobody smokes around me, whichever way they chose to do it. I had a nice screened covered porch added to my house with seating and ashtrays for their convenience. Family and friends smoke there.
Due to recent laws, I can now go to restaurants, stores, bars, and office buildings without endangering my own health. I can fly or take public transportation, attend concerts or lectures, or go practically anywhere the rest of you can go. I can chose whether or not to visit others' homes based on whether they smoke. I can anticipate a reasonable lifespan without requiring surgery for a pacemaker along with several new drugs, as things stand now. Obviously, I'm in favor of the current smoking bans, and favor those being extended to e-cigs in public places. I cannot be the only person in my situation, as my doctor recognizes it as a well-known effect of nicotine.
Consider the following before you so staunchly defend e-cigs in public spaces. Regular tobacco smoke is visible. It has an odor. (I'd say "stench", but that's a personal opinion.) On both those counts, I can tell if it's in use and chose to act accordingly to protect myself. E-cigs don't produce either visible smoke or smells. If someone in the restaurant, bar, office, or store where I am is using one, I have no way of knowing unless I happen to see them in the act. But I still breathe the same air and can still be affected by it. I have no warning until my heart starts acting up. If e-cigs are allowed in public - and enclosed - spaces, my only real choice will be to avoid those spaces. I will never know if a bar, restaurant, office, store, airplane, bus, or whatever is safe for me.
So while they may be better for smokers, keeping in mind that we don't truly know what all is in them, they will not be better for me and those like me.
Heather M. Rosa