Los Angeles moves to ban e-cigarettes, joining NY, others

LOS ANGELES Tue Mar 4, 2014 8:56pm EST

An e-cigarette sits in a tray on the bar at the Henley Vaporium in New York City December 18, 2013. REUTERS/Mike Segar

An e-cigarette sits in a tray on the bar at the Henley Vaporium in New York City December 18, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Mike Segar

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LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The Los Angeles City Council voted on Tuesday to ban the use of electronic cigarettes, also known as "vaping," from restaurants, bars, nightclubs and other public spaces in the nation's second-largest city.

A spokeswoman for Mayor Eric Garcetti confirmed to Reuters that he would sign the measure into law in the coming days.

When he does, Los Angeles will join a growing list of cities, including New York, Boston and Chicago, that restrict the use of e-cigarettes, which are battery-powered cartridges filled with liquid nicotine that creates an inhalable vapor when heated.

At stake is the future of an industry that some analysts believe will eventually overtake the $80 billion-a-year tobacco business.

Public health experts fear that vaping, which has recently gained popularity among teens and young adults, may serve as a gateway to smoking for the uninitiated.

Critics also point to potential harm posed from second-hand vapor from e-cigarettes, saying too little is known about the effects of the chemicals contained in the cartridges.

"We have an obligation to protect the workforce from the effects of secondhand aerosol exhaled by people who choose to 'vape' on e-cigarettes," said City Council member Mitch O'Farrell, who co-sponsored the proposal.

"We also have a responsibility to protect our youth and everyone else in public places from the carcinogens found in the ultra-fine particles in e-cigarette aerosol," he said.

The proposal was opposed by the makers of e-cigarettes, who pitch their product as a safer alternative to smoking traditional cigarettes and say there is no evidence that second-hand vape smoke is harmful. Advocates of e-cigarettes also say they can help smokers kick the habit.

FDA MAY WEIGH IN

The Los Angeles ban differs from restrictions in other major cities in that it was amended to allow vaping in lounges and e-cigarette stores and for filming or theatrical purposes.

"Although we believe the final decision was made in the absence of credible science, it was a more reasonable and sensible approach than the original proposal," NJOY, the largest independent maker of e-cigarettes, said in a written statement.

"NJOY remains concerned, however, that banning e-cigarette use in public places could deter current tobacco smokers from using the products and thus disserves public health," the company said.

The City Council action comes as the U.S. government is contemplating further regulations at the national level.

The Food and Drug Administration has already proposed a rule that would bring e-cigarettes under its jurisdiction and could potentially require companies to register and pay fees, list the ingredients in their products, obtain approval for new products and restrict online sales and marketing to children.

A law passed in 2009 gave the FDA the authority to regulate cigarettes, smokeless tobacco and roll-your-own tobacco.

It also gave the agency the power to deem other tobacco products to be within its jurisdiction, but it must first issue a rule to that effect.

E-cigarette companies believe they should be exempt from the full spectrum of regulations, saying that would stifle innovation, damage small business and hurt consumers trying to quit smoking.

Tobacco company Lorillard Inc, the owner of the blu e-cigarette brand, is the dominant player in the field, followed by privately held NJOY and LOGIC Technology. The three account for an estimated 80 percent of the market.

(Reporting by Steve Gorman and Dan Whitcomb; Editing by Cynthia Johnston, Meredith Mazzilli, Ken Wills and Jan Paschal)

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Comments (21)
dualcitizen wrote:
The homeland of lib idiocy strikes again.

Mar 04, 2014 7:46pm EST  --  Report as abuse
joeketch wrote:
And yet we are passing laws making it legal to smoke pot. What a bunch of idiots.

Mar 04, 2014 7:51pm EST  --  Report as abuse
panjok1 wrote:
Here we go again..the Liberals in California and the rest of the country are playing nanny again! Get off peoples backs! You are the worst disease this country faces as you are job killers at best! Howz about you go out and find something better to do than take another freedom away from America! If you want to know who is taking our freedoms, just thank a Liberal for that one!

Mar 04, 2014 9:21pm EST  --  Report as abuse
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