The New York City Council is holding a hearing today, Wednesday, Dec. 4, on a bill that aims to prohibit the use of e-cigarettes in places where traditional tobacco cigarettes are banned, such as restaurants, offices and parks.
The bill, sponsored by Councilman James Gennaro (D-Queens) and Speaker Christine Quinn (D-Manhattan), claims e-cigarettes may increase the appeal of traditional smoking. “Children and youth who experiment with electronic cigarettes may become addicted to nicotine and then switch to smoking cigarettes,” according to the bill.
Smoke Free Alternatives Trade Association (SFATA), which is dedicated to advocacy, awareness, and education for the electronic cigarette industry, is speaking out on the proposed ban.
“SFATA is opposed to the expansion of indoor or public space smoking bans for e-cigarettes in the same way that combustible tobacco products are banned,” noted Phil Daman, president of the SFATA. “The most important thing to remember about e-cigarettes is this: they do not contain tobacco and they don’t emit smoke. Indoor smoking bans for e-cigarettes would wrongfully perpetuate unfounded fears, myths and common misconceptions about vaporizers, including claims that they pose the same hazards as cigarettes, which is patently untrue. Statutes that ban indoor smoking were carefully thought out over time, and designed to curb the specific and well known harms caused by second hand smoke,” he said.
“It’s important that analogous research, thought, and care go into to how technologies like e-cigs are treated as they have the potential to create great societal benefits in ways we are just now beginning to see. As the Attorney General of Virginia pointed out in an opinion letter on the matter, ‘electronic cigarettes produce no smoke’ and therefore vaping is not the same as smoking and so Virginia’s indoor smoking bans are not applicable to vaping,” he added, citing, 2010 Opinion of Kenneth T.. Cuccinelli, II.
The decision in NYC could set a precedent for other states. Already, Chicago is weighing a similar proposal.