Attorney General Tom Horne says nothing in state law keeps people from lighting up their e-cigarettes pretty much where they want. Arizona Public Radio’s Howard Fischer explains.
A 2006 voter-approved law says smoking tobacco products is forbidden in virtually all public places. But, Horne said that law, crafted years before electronic cigarettes became available, does not cover these new devices. He said that’s because the law defines smoking as setting some tobacco product on fire. E-cigarettes use a battery to generate heat, which converts liquid nicotine to vapor. Bill Pfeifer of the American Lung Association said he thinks Horne got it wrong.
“Of course, it’s not what we would traditionally call a tobacco product. But we believe it still falls within the definition of smoking under the statute that we passed back in 2006,” Pfeifer said.
State health director Will Humble said Horne’s opinion is no surprise. He said key purpose of the law was to protect people not from themselves but from second-hand smoke. Humble acknowledged many in the health community oppose the devices.
“But my attitude is, hey, look, if these things are effective in getting adults off of cigarettes, then they’re a net benefit to public health, not a net nuisance,” Humble said.
Humble said questions remain over whether some of the candy-flavored devices actually entice youngsters to smoke, getting them hooked on nicotine and making actual tobacco smokers out of them. Horne said nothing in his opinion precludes local communities from enacting their own restrictions.