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TOPEKA – State law that regulates smoking tobacco in public indoor places should also cover indoor vaping, Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt has recommended.

Schmidt said he will request introduction later today of legislation to add use of electronic cigarettes to the definition of “smoking” that is regulated by the Clean Indoor Air Act.

“We see no logical reason to protect indoor vaping in public places where indoor smoking is already prohibited by law,” Schmidt said. “I suspect the reason indoor vaping is not already covered by the Clean Indoor Air Act is simply that nobody was thinking about vaping in 2010 when the law was enacted. Our proposal would update the law and close this loophole.”

Schmidt noted that medical professionals suggest secondhand vape aerosol particles, like secondhand smoke, are harmful to people who inhale them. One recent study noted that fumes from e-cigarettes, like secondhand smoke from burning tobacco, contain a variety of harmful chemicals, including nicotine, heavy metals, aldehydes, glycerin, and flavoring substances that are inhaled by people who do not vape but are present where others are vaping.

He also noted the sharp increase in nicotine addiction through youth vaping that has been documented in recent years. For example, e-cigarette use among high school students jumped 78% between 2017 and 2018, and young people who use e-cigarettes are four times more likely to start smoking cigarettes than those who do not vape, according to the Truth Initiative, the country’s largest nonprofit public health organization committed to ending tobacco use. More than one-fourth of high school students, many of whom were never smokers, are now estimated to vape. A recent study by the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute found that about one-third of middle- and high-school students report being exposed to secondhand vaping aerosols in 2018, a sharp increase from prior years.

“We of course need a thoughtful, comprehensive, balanced approach to preventing the health harms associated with vaping, including the increased rate of youth addiction to nicotine after years of decline,” Schmidt said. “Part of that approach is stepped-up enforcement of existing laws that prohibit deceptive marketing and similar misconduct, and we have investigations underway. But in some cases updating the laws themselves also will be required, and we think a logical step to take is to make clear that the existing law that protects Kansans against indoor secondhand smoke also protects against secondhand vape particles.”

As of October, at least 19 states and two territories prohibit use of e-cigarettes in places that are designated 100% smoke-free. But in Kansas, the Clean Indoor Air Act as currently written applies only to combustible tobacco, not to e-cigarettes, as explained in a 2011 Attorney General’s Opinion.

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