WASHINGTON (CBSDC) — The National Park Service is banning the use of all electronic smoking devices in parks where tobacco smoking is prohibited.
National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis announced the policy Monday, which is effective immediately, according to The Washington Times.
“Protecting the health and safety of our visitors and employees is one of the most critical duties of the National Park Service. We are therefore extending the restrictions currently in place protecting visitors and employees from exposure to tobacco smoke to include exposure to vapor from electronic smoking devices,” Jarvis said.
Health officials have previously warned the public that the health effects of long-term e-cigarette use are currently unknown.
“Currently, there are no e-cigarettes approved by FDA for therapeutic uses so they cannot be recommended as a cessation aid,” the Department of Health and Human Services said.
The National Park Service says the vapor exhaled from electronic smoking and other devices can contain nicotine at a level of one-tenth of that found in second-hand smoke.
“Nicotine is highly addictive, toxic to developing fetuses, and impairs fetal brain and lung development,” the service said.
The policy bans the use of all smoking devices within government-owned or leased vehicles and property and all national park concession facilities.
National data show e-cigarettes have become more popular among teens than regular cigarettes. A recent government-funded study conducted at 10 Los Angeles high schools suggests that teens who use e-cigarettes are more likely than others to later smoke conventional cigarettes.
E-cigarettes are an estimated $1.5 billion industry with sales predicted to rise by 24 percent through 2018, according to Fortune Magazine.