New York City Council mulls adding e-cigarettes to smoking ban

NEW YORK Thu Dec 19, 2013 4:52pm EST

1 of 6. A customer puffs on an e-cigarette at the Henley Vaporium in New York City December 18, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Mike Segar

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NEW YORK (Reuters) - The New York City Council on Thursday will vote on a bill that would add electronic cigarettes to the city's strict smoking ban, in the latest of many anti-tobacco measures signed by outgoing Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

Bloomberg's detractors have derided him for trying to impose a "nanny state" in America's largest city, pointing to his bans on smoking, trans fats and the attempt to limit the sale of large sugary drinks. Public health advocates have applauded those same efforts.

Only weeks after New York became the first major city to raise the legal age for buying tobacco to 21, the City Council will vote on a ban that would add electronic cigarettes to the city's Smoke-Free Air Act.

If the bill passes, smoking e-cigarettes - or "vaping" - would be prohibited at public and private venues such as beaches, parks, restaurants and office buildings.

"While more research is needed on electronic cigarettes, waiting to act could jeopardize the progress we have made over the last few years," New York City Health Commissioner Thomas Farley said at a city council hearing on the bill earlier this month.

E-cigarettes are slim, reusable metal tubes that contain nicotine-laced liquid in a variety of exotic flavors such as bubble gum and bacon. As a "smoker" puffs on the device, the nicotine is heated and releases a vapor that, unlike cigarette smoke, contains no tar, which is known to cause cancer and other diseases.

Critics of the law contend that such a ban would do more harm than good.

Richard Carmona, a former U.S. Surgeon General and a current board member at NJOY, one of America's largest electronic cigarette manufacturers, sent a letter to the council recently to urge rejection of the bill.

"I'm extremely concerned that a well-intentioned but scientifically unsupported effort like the current proposal to include electronic cigarettes in New York's current smoking ban, could constitute a giant step backward in the effort to defeat tobacco smoking," Carmona wrote.

The debate over risks versus benefits of e-cigarettes is far from being settled, but a study published recently in the British medical journal, The Lancet, said they are as effective as nicotine patches for smokers trying to kick the habit.

Three states - Utah, North Dakota and New Jersey - and Washington, D.C. have already passed legislation banning e-cigarettes wherever smoking is prohibited.

(Reporting by Curtis Skinner; editing by Edith Honan)

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Comments (12)
Jen_In_Ct wrote:
I want to appeal to any member of the NY City Counsel that happens to read this article. It’s time to put all the falsehoods and inaccuracies to rest once and for all. Opponents of e liquid and e cigarettes continue to spread falsehoods about smokeless cigarettes, which completely go against the documented research.

Smokers have been bashed for many years. We have been harassed and labeled as evil because we’ve been addicted to nicotine. We’re accused of everything from killing babies with second hand smoke to creating a crisis in our hospitals because of our smoking. Okay, listen up carefully. We hear you. We don’t like smoking cigarettes. We want to be healthy. We ARE responsible people. We are NOT evil.
We have found something that works for us. It will not kill us and the vapor it produces is a water vapor. The chemical glycerine used to produce the vapor is the same chemical that your child inhales when they do a nebulizer treatment for their asthma.

Non-smokers would rather have us take Chantix which has some really bad side effects including agitation, hostility, depression, or changes in behavior, thinking, or mood that are not typical, or you suicidal thoughts or actions, anxiety, panic, aggression, anger, mania, abnormal sensations, hallucinations, paranoia, or confusion. Or, they would like us to use a nicotine patch that delivers a hefty dose of nicotine directly into our blood stream. I have atrial fibrillation and that can have some dire consequences for me or anyone else with a cardiac history.

The Journal of Public Health published an article in 2011 in which researchers found that tobacco-specific nitrosamines in e-cigarettes are much lower than those found in regular cigarettes and the amount in ecigs is comparable to the total amount found in the NicoDerm® CQ® patch.

A study just released by Professor Igor Burstyn, Drexel University School of Public Health, confirms that chemicals in electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) pose no health concern for users or bystanders. This is the first definitive study of e-cigarette chemistry and finds that there are no health concerns based on generally accepted exposure limits. By reviewing over 9,000 observations about the chemistry of the vapor and the liquid in e-cigarettes, Dr. Burstyn was able to determine that the levels of contaminants e-cigarette users are exposed to are insignificant, far below levels that would pose any health risk. Additionally, there is no health risk to bystanders. Proposals to ban e-cigarettes in places where smoking is banned have been based on concern there is a potential risk to bystanders, but the study shows there is no concern.
Nicotine, when it does not involve smoking, is very low risk and has not been clearly shown to cause any disease.If there is any risk from nicotine, however, it is so low that it is similar to everyday hazards like drinking coffee or eating dessert, and is far less than the risk from smoking.

Stop insisting there is no research on e-cigarettes and ‘vaping’! There are many studies done on e-cigs predominately in other countries who are more advanced than the US when it comes to doing studies on the effects of vaping. Get rid of the label ‘e-cigarette’ it is NOT a cigarette! It’s a system to deliver a harmless water vapor that contains nicotine. We are only trying to do what everyone has been insisting we do by leaving analog cigarettes behind us and getting healthy again. All my doctors are happy that I’ve quite smoking cigarettes for more than 2 years now. My oncologist, my cardiologist, my endocrinologist and my internal medicine doctor. Are they all wrong or is everyone that thinks they know what they’re talking about right?

Dec 19, 2013 9:10am EST  --  Report as abuse
funkdubayous wrote:
Chantix has been linked to over 500 cases of suicide FYI

Dec 19, 2013 2:18pm EST  --  Report as abuse
rjkincaid wrote:
No tobacco, no tars, no cancer, no second hand smoke…let’s ban them anyways because if they help smokers quit the habit we’ll lose the tax revenue, certainly can’t let that happen.

Dec 19, 2013 2:28pm EST  --  Report as abuse
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