MCHC Bans Vaping at All Health Centers

September 2014

We Banned E-Cigarettes Until We Know They're Safe

We've proactively banned the use of electronic cigarettes at all of our health centers (Hillside, Lakeview, and Little Lake), while studies attempt to determine the extent of the danger they pose. Electronic cigarettes—also called e-cigs or e-cigarettes, personal vaporizers (PVs) or electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS)—have been touted a safer way to inhale nicotine than tobacco-based cigarettes, but “vaping” as it is called (rather than “smoking”) is still new and many in the scientific community do not feel adequate data exists to judge the long-term health impacts.

E-cigs are battery-powered devices that heat a flavored liquid full of nicotine, flavorings, and other ingredients like propylene glycol and vegetable glycerin. The liquid is vaporized and inhaled in a motion similar to that of smoking cigarettes.

E-cig proponents argue that vaping can be used as a nicotine replacement device, helping cigarette smokers reduce their risk of cancer and other tobacco-related illnesses. They say most smokers crave cigarettes for the nicotine, but die because of the tar and other toxic contents in cigarettes.

However, medical studies do not demonstrate enough evidence to suggest that e-cigs are safe or that they are an effective cessation aid, and the fact that the flavorings appeal to children as well as adults may simply cause a new and bigger generation of people addicted to nicotine (and potentially cigarettes) in the years to come.

An ABC News report published September 6, 2014 titled, E-Cigarette Debate Reignites With New Vaping Report, states, “Perhaps most alarmingly, a recent study from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found e-cigarette use among school age children has tripled in the last three years, with half of kids who report vaping stating that they intended to smoke conventional cigarettes within the next year.”

Rather than helping decrease cigarette smoking, vaping may have the opposite effect. Our Executive Director Linnea Hunter said, “Until it is clear that e-cigs are safe for users and those exposed to second-hand vapor, we will not allow them in our health centers. It would be irresponsible to act otherwise.”

We offer medical, dental, and behavioral health services to people in Ukiah, Willits and Lakeport using a patient-centered, team-based approach. Medical providers work with nurses, health educators, and other health professionals to address each patient’s needs, including the patient in the decision-making process. All of our health centers accept Medi-Cal, Medi-Care, Covered California insurance, and more. Mendocino Community Health Clinic is a local non-profit organization providing access to health care for all. Learn more at www.mchcinc.org.

Next: Care for Her Welcomes Midwife Eva Skillicorn →