Health advocates celebrate the addition of e-cigarettes to statewide smoke-free law

Published: Jun. 27, 2019 at 1:56 PM CDT
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On July 1, the use of e-cigarettes will be prohibited in public places where smoking is prohibited, including bars, restaurants, and casinos.

The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, South Dakota State Medical Association, the City of Sioux Falls Health Department, and the American Heart Association celebrated the legislature’s approval of e-cigarette legislation.

“My fellow ACS CAN advocates and I want to thank Sen. Rocky Blare and Rep. Carl Perry for sponsoring this bill and Governor Noem for signing it into law,” said Thomas Asfeldt, director of outpatient cancer services at Sanford USD Medical Center and ACS CAN volunteer. “We also applaud South Dakota’s legislature for passing this significant public health legislation.”

South Dakota voters passed a law in 2010 that eliminated smoking in places such as restaurants, bars, and casinos. The 2019 Legislature amended that law to include electronic devices.

“Research shows that the use of e-cigarettes and vaping products is not harmless. It is unsafe and can cause addiction,” said Dr. Benjamin Aaker, president-elect of the South Dakota State Medical Association. “South Dakota physicians are committed to helping prevent e-cigarette use in youth before it starts, and to counsel patients about e-cigarette usage and the potential for nicotine addiction. This new legislation will help some from becoming addicted, and will protect nonusers from potentially harmful toxins due to secondhand exposure.”

E-cigarette use, especially among youth, has been labeled an epidemic by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

“The use of e-cigarettes is becoming an increasing crisis among teens. These devices are addicting a new generation to tobacco, reversing the decades-long progress that has been made in reducing youth tobacco use,” said Dr. Paul Amundson, medical director, CVS Caremark, and AHA volunteer advocate. “Strong smoke-free laws—like this South Dakota law about to take effect—are a proven strategy for helping address the dramatic rise in e-cigarette use among teens and adults and helping those who want to quit tobacco by providing them with public environments free from any pressure or temptation to smoke.”

The new law has additional benefits, according to the health partners. Along with protecting individuals from secondhand exposure to nicotine and other potentially harmful chemicals found in electronic devices, the legislation also helps ensure that enforcement of existing smoke-free laws is not compromised.

Anyone needing support quitting tobacco or electronic devices is encouraged to call the South Dakota Quitline at 1-866-SD QUITS (1-866-737-8487).