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January 15, 2014

E-cigs banned on state property

EDMOND — State Rep. Randy Grau does not agree with Gov. Mary Fallin’s recent executive order to ban e-cigarettes on all state-owned property, he said.

“If somebody wants to vap in their car while it’s parked on state property, you know I don’t have a problem with that,” Grau said. “I think we have to find that right balance between government oversight and regulation and the freedom of people to be able to use vap products if they want to. They’re adults.”

Fallin’s order went into effect earlier this month to protect the health of those who work on state property and visitors, she said. Fallin issued in a statement, “One of my top priorities as governor is to protect the well-being of our citizens, and e-cigs and ‘vaping devices’ contain addictive properties, like nicotine, and emit chemicals that are harmful to people who choose not to use them.”

More than 200 companies in the U.S. manufacture the e-cigs, according to the American Cancer Society, among them, top cigarette brands such as R.J. Reynolds. E-cigarettes are operated by a battery and emit a vapor after being inhaled.

“E-cigarette products are unique and have their own issues,” Grau said. “I don’t think that they are the same as a cigarette so I don’t think they should be regulated the same way as cigarettes.”

Businesses and entities should be able to ban the use of vaping on their own properties, Grau said. Vaping should be kept out of the hands of minors, he added. The CDC reported in September that the use of e-cigs has surged among teenagers, more than doubling in 2012.

“Some of them come in candy flavors which makes them very appealing to youth,” said Joy Donavon Brandon, an ACS spokesperson.

Grau said he awaits the Food and Drug Administration to release an opinion on the e-cigarettes impact on health, he said. E-cigs are not regulated by the FDA, but the FDA has announced it will do so.

“We at the American Cancer Society know there has been a dramatic increase in the use of e-cigarettes,” Brandon said. “Because of that we ask the FDA to regulate these products so the consumer can determine what ingredients e-cigs contain.”

The ACS does not have a position on whether the use of e-cigs may lead to cancer because they are not regulated by the FDA, Brandon said.

“We can tell you that these products have not been proven to be safe,” Brandon said. “And, they have not been proven scientifically as an effective way to quit smoking either.”

A study in New Zealand revealed that e-cigs are as effective as nicotine patches in helping people to drop their smoking habit.

Potentially harmful constituents also have been documented in some e-cig cartridges, including irritants, genotoxins and animal carcinogens, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“Most of them don’t include their ingredients,” Brandon said. “Some of them have been found to contain nicotine which is a highly-addictive substance.”

TO LEARN more about the health impact of e-cigarettes, go to http://www.cdc.gov/search.do?queryText=e-cigarettes&searchButton.x=0&searchButton.y=0&action=search.

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  • Candidates disagree with White House’s minimum wage

    Gubernatorial candidate Joe Dorman, D-Rush Springs, said the state needs to have serious growth in high-paying living wage jobs that will provide for Oklahomans.
    Dorman cautioned that while Oklahoma’s jobless rate improved in June, the state’s rankings for the well-being of children has dropped from 36th to 39th place, for one of the largest declines in the U.S., according to the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s KIDS COUNT Project.
    The unemployment rate in June dropped to 4.5 percent, down a percentage point from 4.6 percent in May, according to the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission, Gov. Mary Fallin said this week.
    The state’s unemployment rate was more than 7 percent when Fallin was elected during the brink of the Great Depression. Alex Weintz, communications director for Fallin, pointed out that per capita income in Oklahoma was second in the nation from 2011 to 2013.
    The non partisan Congressional Budget office reported in February that raising the minimum wage could kill a half-million jobs in the United States.
    According to The Washington Times, CBO analysts reported, “Once the other changes in income were taken into account, families whose income would be below six times the poverty threshold under current law would see a small increase in income, on net, and families whose income would be higher under current law would see reductions in income, on net.”
    President Barack Obama in February signed an executive order to raise the minimum wage for federal contract workers to $10.10 an hour.
    Weintz said the governor believes tax cuts have enabled families to keep more of their money.
    No one is talking about the under-employment rate of families working minimum wage jobs, Dorman said.
    “It’s all fine and good when you have fast-food jobs that don’t cover the bills and that counts toward your unemployment rate.”
    Oklahoma’s minimum wage reflects the federal minimum wage set at $7.25 an hour, a standard set in 2009.
    Fallin signed legislation this year to prohibit municipalities from raising their local minimum wage above $7.25 an hour.
    “If the minimum wage goes up to $15 in Oklahoma City, all of the sudden you would drive retail, business, service industry locations outside of the city limits and that would be detrimental to the economy, consumers and to businesses,” Weintz said.
    Fallin has said that she opposes raising the minimum wage in Oklahoma because it would stifle job growth for small business and lay off workers. A lot of people earning the $7.25 minimum wage are part-time workers and many of them are students, Weintz said.
    “We believe raising the minimum wage is not a good way to address poverty,” Weintz said. “A lot of people earning the minimum wage are actually people living with their parents or other people who are employed full time, and in many cases they are middle class families. So it’s not a good tool to reduce poverty.”
    Dorman said he does not necessarily support the proposed $10.10 an hour minimum federal minimum wage that is being discussed by Congress.
    “I think we need to have a living wage in Oklahoma that is reflective of our economy,” Dorman said.
    About 102,300 jobs have been added in Oklahoma since Fallin took office in January 2011, according to her office.
    The cost of living in the national economy tends to be higher in some other states, Dorman said.
    So a minimum wage increase should be tied to economic gains so that families can pay their bills and afford to care for their children, Dorman said.
    Independent candidates for governor include Richard Prawdzienski of Edmond, Joe Sills of Oklahoma City and Kimberly Willis of Oklahoma City.

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