By Yamil Berard



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FORT WORTH School trustees voted Tuesday night to ban e cigarettes on Fort Worth school district property.

The electronic vaporizing devices, also known as e cigs, joined the list of prohibited conduct that includes weapons and abusive language.

The policy revision bans electronic cigarettes &#x201C or any electronic vaporizing devices of any kind&#x201D from school district property. Superintendent Walter Dansby recommended the revision.

The vote was 6 0. Trustees Ann Sutherland and Ashley Paz were absent. Trustee Judy Needham abstained.

At least one other district in North Texas, the Desoto school district, has a similar policy, according to news reports.

No students spoke to ask trustees to rethink their decision. But a school employee was there.

Ben Salaz, a print shop supervisor, said he depends on e cigarettes to help him quit smoking regular cigarettes. He urged the board to apply the ban to students only.

&#x201C Rather than have a blanket ban on e cigarettes from school property, let&#x2019 s consider an age stipulation,&#x201D Salaz said to trustees.

&#x201C I am a smoker, and I have been for over 40 years,&#x201D Salaz said. &#x201C Not being able to use this device at my workplace is going to make it harder to quit.&#x201D

Critics of the devices say e cigarettes contain nicotine and are addictive.

Yamil Berard, 817 390 7705 Twitter yberard

Regulating e-cigarettes: science or politics?

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A San Diego City Council committee will consider initial steps this week to regulate e cigarettes, those glowing, battery powered nicotine sticks that many other local governments here and across the country have already put in the same category of public health danger and general nuisance as regular tobacco cigarettes. But the issues with e cigs are not nearly so simple or clear.

It has been known for 60 years or more that tar and many of the hundreds of chemicals in tobacco smoke damage nearly every organ in the body. They cause or contribute to many types of cancer. They cause cardiovascular disease and respiratory disease. Smoking can make it more difficult for a woman to become pregnant and can affect a baby s health. Smoking can reduce a man s fertility. This is just a partial list of health affects and dangers. The health dangers of secondhand tobacco smoke are also well established.

But electronic cigarettes contain only nicotine, whatever artificial flavorings might be added by the manufacturer and a handful of other chemicals generally believed not to be hazardous to health. Nicotine is highly addictive and that alone is a significant concern, particularly regarding the use of e cigarettes by young people. Nicotine also constricts blood vessels, raising blood pressure. Doing that 20 times a day the equivalent of a pack of traditional cigarettes can t be healthy. But nicotine is not known to cause cancer or the other health problems associated with cigarettes. If there are other health impacts, they are simply unknown. And unlike tobacco smoke, secondhand e cig vapor is not known to be a health hazard. Nor does it make your clothes and hair smell and it is not generally offensive to those nearby, inside or out.

On the plus side for e cigarettes, there is evidence that they can be used to help quit smoking you can buy them with progressively lower levels of nicotine, working down to zero.

But there also is fear that e cigs will be considered safe or cool by young people in particular, leading them to get hooked on e cigs and then gateway to the real thing, tobacco.

Those concerns are valid and make clear the need for federal regulation of how e cigarettes are made, how they are marketed and how they are sold and taxed. A ban on e cigarette sales to minors and on Internet sales seems prudent.

But the need for state or local regulations on where e cigarettes can be smoked is less clear. The San Diego County Board of Supervisors and the cities of Vista, Carlsbad, Solana Beach, Encinitas, Poway, La Mesa, El Cajon and Lemon Grove have either already included e cigs with regular tobacco cigarettes in their smoking control ordinances, or are considering doing so.

The San Diego proposal, offered by Councilman Mark Kersey, would do the same. It will be considered by the council s Public Safety and Livable Neighborhoods Committee on Wednesday.

The question is whether such restrictions are scientifically warranted, or simply driven by cultural politics.