This letter originally appeared on Madison.com on February 11, 2015.
Dear Editor: Chris Walker deserves credit for truthfully informing readers that vapor products, otherwise known as electronic cigarettes, are clearly less hazardous than smoking. (“Adding e-cigarettes to smoking ban is the right thing to do”)
However, in arguing for Wisconsin’s smoking ban to apply to these smoke-free products, Walker errs by resorting to a common rhetorical tactic that has no basis in science. Walker simply names two chemicals — chromium and nickel — that have been detected in e-cigarette vapor. He assumes that the mere presence of these scary-sounding chemicals denotes evidence of possible harm.
In doing so, Walker forgets about or ignores the principal tenet of toxicology — the dose makes the poison. Indeed, the authoritative U.S. Pharmacopeial Convention has set maximum allowable limits of impurities in inhalable medications for many chemicals. Yes, nickel and chromium have been detected in e-cigarette vapor, but according to longtime anti-smoking researcher Dr. Michael Siegel of the Boston University School of Public Health, daily exposure levels for users are between 15 and 250 times less than what are allowed in inhalable medications. Of course, these are the amounts that actual users are exposed to, so the amounts bystanders encounter will be even tinier.
Rep. Joel Kleefisch is correct to push back against these unjustified prohibitions. Wisconsin business owners should retain the right to set their own vaping policies.
Gregory Conley, president, American Vaping Association