While proponents of e-cigarettes contend that they do not produce the caustic smoke typically associated with tobacco use, this does not appear to be enough for the State of New York. On Dec. 19, New York voted to expand its citywide indoor smoking ban to include the use of e-cigarettes.
The legislation was proposed in late November and was passed in a City Council vote of 43-8 last week. The new rules will add electronic cigarettes to the city’s Smoke-Free Air Act, which dictates where and when smokers can light up. This is only weeks after the city became the first to raise the legal age for purchasing cigarettes from 18 to 21.
In a statement following the proposal, the City Council said, it “has worked for well over a decade passing laws to curb smoking in New York City. Smoking rates are lower than ever and New Yorkers are healthier and live longer as a direct result of these laws. One of our greatest achievements in combating the devastating effects of smoking was passing the Smoke-Free Air Act which bans smoking in public places, restaurants and bars and in private office buildings where people work. The Smoke-Free Air Act has saved lives and has even been a boon to business.”
While the legislative action has passed the council, it will still need to be signed into action by Mayor Michael Bloomberg. An anti-tobacco activist himself, Bloomberg is expected to sign the bill, which will make the use of e-cigarettes in public and private venues like beaches parks and restaurants, illegal within 120 days.
Detractors say that the move continues the NYC government’s trend of meddling with the choices of consenting adults, citing the move to ban sugary beverages over 16 ounces and raising the age at which smokers can purchase cigarettes.
While e-cigs are said to mitigate some of the health effects of smoking, deeper research is still pending. Utah, New Jersey and North Dakota have also implemented restrictions on the use of e-cigs.
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