New York City’s Smoking Ban to Include e-cigarettes

    December 20, 2013
    Josh Wolford
    Comments are off for this post.

Since 2002, New York City has banned smoking in bars, restaurants, places of employment, government buildings, parks, and other public places. Now, over a decade after that law was enacted, the NYC Council has decided to add e-cigarettes to the ban.

In a 43-8 vote the city approved the measure to ban electronic cigarettes from all public buildings – and a handful of parks. Mayor Bloomberg is expected to sign the legislation. E-cigarettes, which use vapor to deliver nicotine to their users, have been growing in popularity over the past couple of years – not only with adults but also among teens. There are various styles of e-cigs, but the most common sees a user heat up a nicotine-laced liquid (many with fun flavors) and inhale the resulting vapor. The fact that it’s vapor, not smoke, has led advertisers to push the “vape anywhere!” pitch.

Their popularity was outpacing the regulation and legislation – at least until now. The FDA is looking to regulate the devices like tobacco products, and the CDC says “what comes out of e-cigarettes is less toxic [than a real cigarette], but it’s more toxic than breathing clean air.”

The American Lung Association takes a “it might be harmful, but more research is need” stance:

“Also unknown is what the potential harm may be to people exposed to secondhand emissions from e-cigarettes. Two initial studies have found formaldehyde, benzene and tobacco-specific nitrosamines (a carcinogen) coming from those secondhand emissions. While there is a great deal more to learn about these products, it is clear that there is much to be concerned about, especially in the absence of FDA oversight,” says the organization.

Here’s what the legislation says:

Electronic cigarette devices have not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for smoking cessation and are currently unregulated by the FDA. Most devices contain nicotine, a highly addictive substance. Although the long-term effects of electronic cigarette devices require further study, the FDA has found that some devices contain toxins and carcinogens and has expressed concerns about their safety. Use of electronic cigarette devices, particularly in places where smoking is prohibited, may interfere with smokers’ attempts to quit by making it easier for them to maintain their nicotine addiction. Children and youth who experiment with electronic cigarettes may become addicted to nicotine and ultimately switch to smoking cigarettes.

The use of electronic cigarette devices may be visually similar to the smoking of cigarettes, and has already been observed in locations where smoking is prohibited, creating concern and confusion that threatens to interfere with enforcement of the Smoke-Free Air Act. The use of electronic cigarette devices in places where smoking is prohibited may increase the social acceptability and appeal of smoking, particularly for youth, potentially undermining the enormous progress that has been made over the years in discouraging smoking.

The Council therefore finds that prohibiting the use of electronic cigarette devices in public places and places of employment will protect the health of the citizens of New York City, facilitate enforcement of the Smoke-Free Air Act, and protect youth from observing behaviors that could encourage them to smoke.

So it appears the council’s objection to e-cigarette use has three major points – 1) we don’t know enough about e-cigarettes and their potential health hazards, 2) it could make smoking look cool and influence kids, and 3) people could be confused by e-cigarettes and think that users are smoking real cigs.

The Wall Street Journal says that other major cites could follow NYC’s lead – with both Los Angeles and Chicago eyeing public e-cig bans as early as January of next year.

Image via Michael Dorausch, Flickr

  • http://www.generalmarketing.co.uk/forumdisplay.php?8-General-Marketing/ General Marketing

    I really think the reason they’re adding this to the ban is because they don’t want to allow people who use Ecigs to smoke up when people who smoke cigarettes are left out and forced to smoke in places they are allowed to. I believe it’s reasonable.

    • buts

      Yea. But what has been happening instead, the smokers see them vaping inside then they too decide vaping is the way to go. Then eventually all then smokers become vaporers, and we find ourselves in a tobacco free sociaty. Go figure!

  • http://www.vapedoctor.com/ Sarah Kaufman

    Several researches regarding the long-term health effects of inhaling nicotine vapor are going on. It is not legal to use in Australia. In Brazil, Finland, Singapore electronic cigarettes sales, importation or advertisement of any kind are forbidden.

  • http://www.tekshapers.com/it-consulting-services.html IT Consulting

    Protect youth from observing behaviors that could encourage them to smoke.

  • thejustavenger

    I don’t think this will end up well for the enforcers. What are they going to do give you a ticket, screw ’em.

  • http://www.officekitten.co.uk Alex M.

    Not being a smoker (and finding the whole thing disgusting and annoying), I welcome this. I’ve seen e-cigarettes cropping up everywhere, and people are smoking them on public transport etc. Smoking’s banned in England, and having read up about the things they don’t assist the cessation of smoking, nor are they free from harmful fumes. So, an outright ban in the UK should follow suit I’m sure.

  • Simon

    Quite frankly… nicotine is a narcotic, and should be banned like most other narcotics. Just because is has been legal for many years (and creates huge amounts of tax revenue) should make no difference to the FDA’s decisions.

    I know that there are some areas (not sure if was at a city/county/state level) that are “permitting” the use of cannabis… are there laws in place for fining people who are “under the influence of THC”.

    I have seen that “Colorado passed a law last spring that presumes you’re too high to drive if you have five nanograms or more of THC per milliliter of blood”. Have they done tests to find out “at what stonned’ness” most people are not able to make proper decisions under stress, avoid accidents, control vehicles safely, and when they are more likely to fall asleep, or “zone out”.

    I hope that the law makers are not going to be caught of guards, when they have to make a whole bunch of new laws that make up for the inadequacies of their new law.

  • Bill

    Everybody LOVES to jump on the anti-smoking bandwagon.

    I can GUARANTEE you, that a passing automobile will expose you to FAR more harmful chemicals than someone smoking an e-cig next to you.

    Nobody has a problem with all of the alcohol consumption going on in this world, but it causes FAR more harm than smoking does. People are killed by drunk drivers DAILY. TEEN use of alcohol continues to rise. I don’t see this product getting banned anywhere though…

  • http://www.bosunsupplies.com Sam

    Can someone point me to a site that really explains how these work? I sell stainless steel wire rope and I have a ton of new customers buying it for e-cigs, but I have no idea how they are using it…