Starting Jan. 1, unregulated electronic smoking devices will be banned at state Department of Health properties.
State health officials said the policy applies to anyone who enters the department’s premises, including its employees, visitors, volunteers, students, contract workers, and delivery personnel.
In a DOH news release issued this afternoon, Lola Irvin, Tobacco Settlement programs manager, said while electronic smoking devices are touted as smoke-free, they have not been proven to be safe. The electronic smoking devices release nicotine and other chemicals and carcinogens into the environment, leaving people around them exposed to potentially harmful vapor — just like second-hand smoke, Irvin said.
"Using electronic smoking devices threatens our smoke-free laws designed to protect the public from the harmful effects of tobacco and nicotine," Irvin said in the release.
Electronic smoking devices are used by inhaling vaporized liquid nicotine created by heat through an electronic ignition system, thereby simulating cigarette smoking.
The department said the new policy was among the last directives signed by its director Loretta Fuddy who died earlier this month after an airplane she was on made a forced landing in waters off Kalaupapa, Molokai. The directive is the first of its kind among Hawaii state departments.