DENVER, Colo. (KKTV) - A Colorado Springs doctor plans to testify in front of the Colorado House Health & Insurance Committee Wednesday afternoon in support of a bill that would ban electronic cigarettes indoors.
“We know there’s a direct link between traditional cigarettes and the development of lung cancer over time,” said Dr. Grace Houser, a pediatric pulmonologist at Children’s Hospital Colorado. “We’re starting to see that those electronic cigarettes are putting some of the same carcinogens into the lung and that they can cause damage to the lung.”
Houser said e-cigs are not necessarily a safer alternative to traditional cigarettes like the companies market. She said vaping is especially harmful for children and teens.
“We know that nicotine exposure is really bad for the adolescent developing brain,” Houser said. “It can impair their cognitive function, their memory ability and essentially cause long-term brain damage.”
She said the number of teens who vape is increasing so rapidly, it’s become an epidemic. In a 2017 study, Houser said 27-28 percent of youth reported they had vaped in the last month, which was double the national average. While 87 percent of youth reported believing traditional cigarettes were bad for their health, only 50 percent believe e-cigarettes are risky.
“These are very concerning trends that youth are picking up these devices and finding them acceptable and not being aware of the dangers of these devices,” Houser said.
Not only is vaping harmful for the people who use e-cigarettes, but Houser said people breathing in the secondhand smoke could have negative health effects as well.
“We are seeing that the secondhand smoke from electronic cigarette products contain some of the same chemicals as what is found in traditional cigarette secondhand smoke,” she said. “The evidence is building that secondhand smoke from electronic cigarettes is not safe for anyone either.”
After testifying on behalf of the bill, Houser said the hope is that it will pass out of the committee and move to the Colorado House for a full vote.
People who are interested in supporting the bill can make their voices heard by sending a prewritten statement to their state representative. The statement can also be modified to include personal messages.