ANR UPDATE, 32(4), Winter 2013

Six Flags Responds... poorly

Many thanks to our ANR members and colleagues who took the time to write to Six Flags amusement park about the blatant advertising of blu electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) at the park. The generic response from Six Flags was pitiful and one personal response to an ANR member was even more shameful.

Generic auto-reply: Thank you for writing to Six Flags Discovery Kingdom with your concern regarding this issue. Your concern will be forwarded to the appropriate department for review and further consideration. If there is anything else that we can assist with please feel free to contact us here at Guest Relations. (Six Flags Discovery Kingdom)

Personal reply to an ANR member: Thank you for sharing your concerns with me. I respect your opinion; however, it's important to note that millions of guests visit our park with a wide range of likes and dislikes; many of whom frankly think we should be providing more smoking areas, while others are of the opinion that smoking in the park should be disallowed entirely.

As a company, we neither advocate for nor admonish guests who choose to consume cigarettes, eCigs, alcohol, or other food and beverages, but rather, what we strive to do is provide the appropriate number of locations inside the park where guests can enjoy their individual choices. Six Flags Discovery Kingdom is a smoke-free environment with the exception of a limited number of designated smoking areas where guests may choose to smoke traditional cigarettes or eCigs. Kind regards, Park President, Don McCoy

Clearly, we must continue to speak up and demand smokefree and e-cigarette-free environments! This is not a personal choice issue - it is a public health issue. And the Park President failed to address the fact that the Blu e-cigarette sign was an advertisement for the product, not merely a means to identify a "smoking" area. Below is another example of the power of speaking up about e-cigarette use - this time at the Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW) airport:

Email (edited for space) sent to: - Hello. I had the pleasure of flying through DFW in August, and enjoyed many of the amenities that your airport offers. However, I was alarmed by the lack of a policy prohibiting the use of electronic cigarettes. I was exposed to the vapor from someone using one of these products in a restaurant, and yesterday a friend complained to me that she was exposed while standing in line at the concourse. These products are not regulated by the FDA or any other agency, and they have been manufactured and distributed without oversight, data, or proof that they are harmless to bystanders or that they emit just water vapor. I encourage you to prohibit the use of electronic cigarettes in all of the places in which you prohibit the use of combustible tobacco products.

Response from DFW: Thank you for contacting Ask DFW web site. DFW airport does prohibit smoking of any kind at the airport. Which restaurant and terminal did you witness the smoking of the electronic cigarette? Thank you for your feedback, Terminal Manager, DFW International Airport.

Thankfully, as DFW demonstrated, action by businesses, communities, and states to prohibit the use of e-cigarettes in smokefree workplaces and public places is increasing as people become more aware of the potential negative health consequences of e-cigarette use and exposure, and the unrestrained marketing tactics being used by e-cigarette manufacturers.

This summer, the Bismarck-Burleigh (ND) Public Health Department heard that an e-cigarette kiosk opened at a local mall (after offering to pay premium rent), and the proprietor was telling people that they could use e-cigarettes anywhere indoors in North Dakota. Fortunately, the statewide smokefree workplace law that went into effect last December includes a prohibition on the use of e-cigarettes, so the Health Department was able to enforce the law at the mall and clarify with the business owner that e-cigarettes may not be used at the mall or in any other smokefree venue.

Lastly, ANR/F staff held a Listening Session with the Food and Drug Administration's Center for Tobacco Products (FDA CTP) to share our observations about the explosion of e-cigarette sales, interference with smokefree laws, and marketing of e-cigarettes both online and on television, and requested that FDA CTP take immediate action to quash the therapeutic health claims being made for e-cigarettes as well as to start the long process of regulating the product. In the meantime, ANR's position is that e-cigarette use should not be allowed in any otherwise smokefree environment.

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