|Electronic cigarettes are probably not covered under the state's smoking ban since they don't give off smoke, according to Bob Brammer of the Iowa Attorney General's Office.
But the New Age stogies still pose a health risk, says Iowa Pharmacy Board Executive Director Lloyd Jessen.
Crown 7 produces a line of electronic cigarettes, cigars and pipes that contain no tobacco. The user puts a nicotine capsule inside the pen-like rechargeable device, and then puffs on one end. The other end lights up just like a cigarette even though this product does not burn.
The electronic cigarette delivers a nicotine hit but lets out an odorless water vapor puff instead of a smoke plume. That is why they are not affected by the state's smoking ban, Brammer said.
They're for sale over the Internet at a range of strengths and prices, and advocates insist they have lots of benefits. There's no chance of fire since you don't light them, they don't stain your teeth, there's no second-hand smoke and they may make quitting easier.
But vendors also claim they don't harm your health because the tar and smoke that comes with regular cigarettes isn't present. Jessen disagrees.
"There are some public health concerns," Jessen said. He said nicotine is a highly addictive drug that, when inhaled, can have adverse effects on the lungs.
"It could be an especially dangerous drug for young people who may not see the health risks."
Jessen said his board has not taken an official position on the issue, but plans to look at electronic cigarettes at its next meeting. He said it is likely they will discuss the matter with FDA officials.
"It's really an issue for the FDA," said Jessen.
He said since the product is not manufactured in Iowa and is sold across state lines, it is a federal issue. But, one he says needs to be addressed.