For Immediate Release: January 21, 2014
Joint legislative hearing to investigate benefits of
electronic cigarettes for tobacco cessation
The Senate Committee on Health and Human Services
and the House Committee on Public Health will hold a joint hearing
on Wednesday, January 22, to study the benefits of electronic
cigarettes and vapor devices as aides in tobacco harm reduction.
The committees, chaired by Sen. Brain
Crain, R-Tulsa, and Rep. David Derby, R-Owasso, worked closely
together to schedule the hearing so key expert witnesses from
around the country would be available to testify about the safety
of these products.
E-Cigarette, or “vapor” advocates, along
with public health officials, are scheduled to make presentations
beginning at 9:00 a.m. in the Senate Chamber.
“I believe it’s important for us to
have an informed discussion on the subject of electronic cigarettes,
especially in light of recent proposed regulations of these products,”
Crain said. “I look forward to hearing expert testimony
from both sides of the debate. I’m especially grateful that
Secretary of Health and Human Services Terry Cline will be in
testifying, but it’s very disappointing that our invitation
to the Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust to testify was declined.”
Crain said the relationship between these products
and successful smoking cessation was something that needed to
be better understood as the legislature proceeds to craft regulations.
“The Legislature has been told that there
is a growing consensus within the medical and scientific communities
supporting the use of e-cigarettes and vaping to help smoking
cessation efforts, but alarmingly, much of this information has
not been recognized by public health officials,” Crain said.
Dr. Joel Nitzkin, a physician and a former Louisiana
State Health Director, is scheduled to make a presentation as
part of the hearing.
“Tobacco control policy has gone largely unchanged
during the last 30 years. Significant data is pointing toward
the promise of these products to help reduce the rate of smoking,”
Nitzkin said. “It really becomes a question of ethics, whether
public health officials across the county acknowledge this data
in their efforts to achieve a meaningful reduction in smoking
According to information released by the Oklahoma
State Department of Health, Oklahoma ranked 39th in the nation
in 2013 for adult smoking compared to 47th in 2012. The percentage
of adult smokers decreased from 26.1 percent to 23.3 percent.
During the same time period, the Oklahoma Tax Commission saw 14
million fewer cigarette tax stamps sold. Advocates have noted
that while the state’s public policy remains unchanged,
public use of vaping products and electronic cigarettes has risen
Speakers for the joint hearing include:
• Michael Shannon - Vice President, External
Affairs & Associate General Counsel, Lorillard, Inc.
• Dr. Joel Nitzkin, Senior Fellow Tobacco Policy, R Street
• Sean Gore, Chairman, Oklahoma Vapor Advocacy League
• Mr. Jerry Blakley, Concerned Citizen
• Dr. Leonard Lichtenfeld, Deputy Chief Medical Officer,
American Cancer Society
• Terry Cline, PhD, Secretary of Health and Human Services
and Commissioner of Health
• Jeff Stier, Senior Fellow at the National Center for Public
Policy Research in Washington, DC
• Theodore Wagener, PhD, Assistant Professor, Department
of Pediatrics, University of Oklahoma Health Science Center
For more information contact:
Sen. Crain: (405) 521-5620