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County Executive's Office

Dane County Introduces Measure to Prohibit E-Cigarettes in Workplaces

August 12, 2015
Stephanie Miller, 608-267-8823
County Executive

MADISON, WI – Today, Dane County Executive, Joe Parisi and County Board Supervisor Jenni Dye introduced an ordinance to prohibit the use of electronic delivery devices (e-cigarettes) in workplaces.  Electronic cigarettes are an oral device that can be used to simulate smoking and produces an aerosol of nicotine and/or other substances and chemicals.  Studies have shown that the aerosol that is exhaled by the users contains high levels of nicotine, propylene glycol (a known respiratory irritant), formaldehyde, and heavy metals such as lead, tin, nickel, and chromium.


“Ensuring our workforce has a safe work environment is critical to a productive healthy workforce,” said Dane County Executive Joe Parisi.  “It is important to protect Dane County’s clean indoor air by including electronic smoking devices in Dane County’s smoke-free air ordinance. Limiting their use in public indoor areas is just good common sense”


Currently, the Food and Drug Administration is proposing to extend their authority to cover e-cigarettes due to concerns about their safety.  Long-term term studies on the health effects have not been conducted and there is no proof that the aerosol is safe for the person smoking, or for those who breathe in the secondhand aerosol. The smoke-free workplace law went into effect a little over five years ago. However, e-cigarette use threatens this standard and makes enforcement confusing.


These devices are also known as e-hookahs, hookah pens, vape pens, vaporizers, e-cigars and e-pipes.  Unlike traditional cigarettes, e-cigarettes are generally battery-operated and use an atomizer to heat a refillable cartridge that then releases a chemical filled vapor.  E-cigarettes are often available in flavors that may appeal to children and teens, including cotton candy, chocolate, strawberry and mint.


Lead sponsor of the ordinance, Supervisor Jenni Dye said, “This proposal makes a very simple change in the interest of public health.  By treating e-cigarettes like we already treat cigarettes, we can make sure that in areas we share with others, the air is clean and enjoyable for everyone."


Continuously breathing air that contains fine or ultra-fine particulate matter — any particulate matter — is cause for concern.  For that reason alone, e-cigarettes should not be used in workplaces and even more concerning; there are hundreds of other “vaping” products on the market that have never been the target of any scientific study.  Without any federal regulations being imposed on e-cigarettes, there are currently no restrictions on ingredients manufacturers can or cannot use and no restrictions on the kinds of chemicals they can emit into the indoor environment.


In Wisconsin, Florence County has an ordinance prohibiting e-cigarettes in public places. Municipalities that have passed regulation to prohibit e-cigarettes in the workplace include Madison, Ashwaubenon, Greenfield, and Onalaska.  Three states have passed e-cigarette policies – North Dakota, New Jersey, and Utah.