It’s not burning tobacco leaves — but it’s still not welcome. National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis issued a policy memorandum Monday prohibiting the use of electronic smoking devices in all places where tobacco smoking is prohibited in national parks. The policy is effective immediately.
“Protecting the health and safety of our visitors and employees is one of the most critical duties of the National Park Service. We are therefore extending the restrictions currently in place protecting visitors and employees from exposure to tobacco smoke to include exposure to vapor from electronic smoking devices,” Mr. Jarvis said.
The Department of Health and Human Services has already taken a stand on the devices, noting in a public advisory, “With e-cigarettes there are many unknowns, including the unknown health effects of long-term use. Currently, there are no e-cigarettes approved by FDA for therapeutic uses so they cannot be recommended as a cessation aid.”
The National Park Service also noted that vapor exhaled from electronic cigarettes and other electronic nicotine delivery systems contains nicotine at a level roughly one-tenth of that found in second-hand smoke. “Nicotine is highly addictive, toxic to developing fetuses, and impairs fetal brain and lung development,” the agency said.
The new policy clearly bans use of the devices within all facilities and vehicles that are government owned or leased, and within all national park concessions facilities.
Meanwhile, e-cigarettes are estimated to be a $1.5 billion industry, according to Fortune magazine, with sales predicted to rise by 24 percent through 2018. Some states are considering taxing the devices.
A potential class-action lawsuit was filed Sept. 8 in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California against a subsidiary of Reynolds American Inc., claiming that use of top-selling electronic cigarette Vuse exposes its users to “significant amounts of harmful carcinogens.”