Brett Blume, Fred Bodimer

ST. LOUIS (KMOX) –  Riders on Metro buses and MetroLink trains are prohibited from lighting up, even on train platforms.

But that same ban doesn’t apply to electronic cigarettes, or E-cigs, which are touted as the safer and cleaner alternative to traditional smokes because they only emit water vapor.

It’s something that could change in the near future.

“It is something that we’re looking into,” Metro spokesperson Dianne Williams confirms to KMOX News. “Right now we, among other businesses, have not prohibited (E-cig) use at this point.”

Some businesses are still waiting for official confirmation of claims made by E-cig manufacturers before deciding whether banning them is the right move.

Dr. Anthony Scalzo, director of toxicology for SLU Care, says health experts currently don’t know enough to say whether they’re safe to use.

He does allow that evidence to this point seems to indicate that E-cigs are safer than traditional cigarettes.

“However, some researchers have found a compound called nitrosamines,” Scalzo tells KMOX Health Editor Fred Bodimer. “Now these are cancer-causing chemicals that have been detected in some of the liquid that’s been used in these cartridges for the e-cigarette. We don’t know enough yet that this is true for every one of the cartridges so it may not be a universally applied result.”

Metro’s Williams says a final decision may come down to eliminating any confusion that might be caused by someone lighting up an E-cig on a Metro bus or train.

“It makes it pretty difficult for a passenger sitting several rows away to know whether that’s a real cigarette or not, or for a bus operator to know what’s going on,” she says. “So we’re looking at whether or not we will prohibit (E-cigs) in the future.”

She gave no timetable for a decision on a potential E-cig ban on Metro buses and trains.

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