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‘Something needs to be done:’ Bill would ban vaping where smoking is prohibited in Wisconsin

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MADISON -- A bill introduced in Madison, supported by the American Lung Association, aims to treat e-cigarettes like regular cigarettes. It would mean that e-cigarette use would be banned anywhere traditional smoking is prohibited.

On July 5, 2010, Wisconsin effectively went smoke-free. The indoor smoking ban put an end to smoking inside bars, restaurants, and workplaces. Nearly a decade later, the new bill adds another product to the list.

Smoking"We've had smoke free air for nine years, and that's really what the public expects," said Dona Wininsky with the American Lung Association. "It would open up the state's smoke-free air law, and it would include e-cigarettes -- all vaping devices so that they would be prohibited anywhere that smoking is presently prohibited."

It would mean if you cannot use traditional smoking products in certain spaces, vaping devices would also be prohibited.

"This time, I asked a Republican to be the main author," said Rep. Debra Kolste.

Rep. Kolste, one of the bill's sponsors, said there wasn't immediately any pushback at the Capitol.

Vaping"There's 33 cosponsors from the Assembly, and it's very bipartisan," said Kolste.

The reason for such support, Kolste said, is because of the 1,604 lung injury cases (as of Tuesday, Oct. 22) associated with e-cigarette products in 49 states, the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The CDC on Thursday, Oct. 24 identified 34 vaping-related deaths in 24 states: Three each from California, Indiana and Minnesota; two each from Georgia, Illinois, Kansas and Oregon; and one each from Alabama, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Utah and Virginia.

VapingThe patients who died ranged in age from 17 to 75.

In July, Children's Wisconsin officials reported eight cases of hospitalized teenagers with seriously damaged lungs to the Wisconsin Department Health Services.

Vaping"So the immediate symptoms that might pose a warning that there's a concern would be significant coughing, shortness of breath, weight loss, reduced eating, severe fatigue," said Dr. Michael Gutzeit.

While the specific cause of these illnesses was under investigation, supports of the bill said they're eager to move forward.

"I think there is an overwhelming sense that something needs to be done," said Kolste.

Gregory Conley, president of the American Vaping Association issued this statement to FOX6 News:

"Despite recent illnesses and deaths linked to the use of illicit marijuana oil products, there is no evidence of a secondhand risk from being around someone using a nicotine vaping product. While it is common courtesy to not vape in a business establishment without permission, state lawmakers should be legislating based on risk, not good decorum. Many bars and other business owners permit the respectful use of vaping products and there is no scientific basis for legislators to force them to stop with the threat of fines."

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