LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — Officials in Lincoln and Lancaster County are taking steps toward adding vaping to the local ban in indoor smoking, prompting a vow from a woman who owns three Lincoln vape product shops that she’ll fight any such effort.
The Lincoln-Lancaster County Board of Health on Tuesday endorsed the idea of a local ban. David Humm with the city-county health department said he expects a formal proposal on banning vaping in public places will go to the Lincoln City Council in the next few months.
Sarah Linden, who counts Lincoln’s Generation V among her properties, told the Lincoln Journal Star she doesn’t think a ban makes sense, given that vaping has been promoted as a safer alternative to cigarettes.
“If I knew vaping was actually bad for people, I would close my business,” said Linden, who also owns stores in Omaha and Bellevue in Nebraska and stores in Council Bluffs and Davenport in Iowa.
Vaping isn’t safer, Humm said.
“It’s not a water vapor. It’s not harmless,” he said. “There’s known toxins that cause cancer.”
More than 2,000 Americans who vape have gotten sick since March, many of them teen and young adults, and at least 40 people have died, according to federal health officials.
They announced earlier this month that they’d found a “very strong culprit” for the cause of the mysterious outbreak among vapers. The same chemical compound was found in fluid taken from the lungs of 29 patients across the country, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said. The compound —vitamin E acetate — was previously found in liquid from electronic cigarettes and other vaping devices used by many of those who got sick.
The officials said they can’t rule out all other toxic substances, and it may take animal studies to clearly show vitamin E acetate causes the lung damage.
A vaping ban in public places already has been adopted in Grand Island, and Kearney’s mayor has asked city staffers to study whether vaping poses a threat to public health.
In Iowa, vaping bans have been imposed in Ames, Coralville, Iowa City and North Liberty.