Democrats Call for Ban on E-Cigarettes on Capitol Grounds

Democrats Call for Ban on E-Cigarettes on Capitol Grounds
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Several senators and a congressman want electronic cigarettes banned on the U.S. Capitol grounds.

In a letter sent yesterday to the House Office Building Commission and the Senate Committee on Rules, Sens. Dick Durbin, Richard Blumenthal, Sherrod Brown, Ed Markey, Tom Harkin and Barbara Boxer, along with retiring Rep. Henry Waxman, said that e-cigarettes should be treated the same way as cigarettes. The latter are currently banned at the Capitol, nearby office buildings, and within 25 feet of the entrance of those buildings.

In the letter, the Democratic lawmakers say it’s unclear whether e-cigarettes are safer than traditional cigarettes, and that banning them would be “an appropriate precautionary step to promote public health and maintain a safe environment for staff and visitors of the institution and its grounds.”

The letter also asserts that while “no clinical studies have been submitted to the FDA to verify the safety or long-term health effects of these products or the vapor they release,” a preliminary FDA analysis of e-cigarettes “raises concerns regarding the safety of e-cigarettes, both for current users and for bystanders exposed to their vapor.”

Several of the letter signers criticized the Golden Globes broadcast last month for glamorizing e-cigarettes and encouraging “young fans to begin smoking traditional cigarettes or e-cigarettes.” 

Adam O'Neal is a political reporter for RealClearPolitics. He can be reached at aoneal@realclearpolitics.com. Follow him on Twitter @RealClearAdam.

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